Delirium in elderly postoperative patients: A prospective cohort study

Nurs Open. 2022 Sep;9(5):2461-2472. doi: 10.1002/nop2.1263. Epub 2022 Jun 18.


Aim: To describe the incidence, time in days and risk factors for postoperative delirium in elderly patients.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Methods: Patients over 65 years were daily screened with the 4A's Test and the Delirium Observation Screening Scale for postoperative delirium. A psychiatrist assessed according to the DSM-V. We performed descriptive and logistic regression analyses.

Results: From 202 patients, 7.5% (N = 15) had a diagnosed postoperative delirium, whereby 73.3% (N = 11) developed the delirium during the first 48 hr after surgery. The median duration was 1 day. Patients over 80 years suffering from heart failure with surgical drains, bladder catheter, central venous catheter had higher odds for developing a postoperative delirium. The incidence of postoperative delirium in our sample was lower compared with other surgical and ortho-geriatric populations. Despite age, several modifiable postoperative factors were associated with the occurrence of postoperative delirium.

Keywords: delirium; general surgery; nursing assessment; outcome assessment health care; postoperative complications; postoperative delirium.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Delirium* / diagnosis
  • Delirium* / epidemiology
  • Delirium* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Postoperative Complications* / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications* / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors