This abstract is from an article published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine:
Nowels DE, Bublitz C, Kassner CT, Kutner JS. Estimation of Confusion Prevalence in Hospice Patients. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2002: 5(5): 687-695.
BACKGROUND: Confusion is common among ill patients and has broad consequences for their care and well being. The prevalence of confusion in hospice patients is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: Describe the prevalence, severity, and manifestations of nurse-identified confusion and estimate the prevalence of delirium in hospice patients.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional descriptive study.
SETTING: Nineteen hospices in the Population-based Palliative Care Research Network (PoPCRN).
PATIENTS: Adult patients receiving care from participating hospices, February 15 to April 1, 2000.
MEASUREMENT AND ANALYSIS: Hospice nurses estimated prevalence, severity, behavioral manifestations, and consequences of confusion during the preceding week. Confused and not-confused patients were compared using standard bivariate and stratification techniques. Logistic regression identified manifestations associated with problematic confusion.
RESULTS: Median age of the 299 patients was 78 years, 59% were female, 52% lived at home, and cancer was the most common diagnosis (54%). Fifty percent were confused during the preceding week, 36% of those were severely confused or disabled by confusion. Compared with non-confused patients, confused patients were less likely to have cancer (64% vs. 43%, p=0.001) and more likely to live in nursing home/assisted living (21% vs. 33%, p=0.01). Disorientation to time or place, impaired short-term memory, drowsiness, and easy distractibility were common manifestations of confusion. When present, confusion caused a problem for the patient, someone else, or both 79% of the time. Inappropriate mood, cancer diagnosis, agitation, and age were the variables predicting problematic confusion. Only 14% of confused patients met criteria for delirium.
CONCLUSIONS: Confusion among hospice patients was common, frequently severe, and usually problematic.
Thank you to the 19 PoPCRN sites that participated in this study. Please contact David Nowels for reprints of this article.