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Psychosomatics. 2001 Sep-Oct;42(5):391-6.

Prevalence, detection and treatment of anxiety, depression, and delirium in the adult critical care unit.

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  • 1Adult Critical Care Unit and Psychiatry Section, Fundacion Valle del Lili Medical Center, Cali, Columbia.


This study assesses the levels of depression, anxiety, and delirium during admission to three adult critical care units (CCU) and the performance of CCU staff with respect to detection and treatment. During a 1-month period, 96 consecutive patients were evaluated on the first day of admission by an independent rater, using the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale and the Confusional Assessment Method. Frequency of alcohol use and demographic data were recorded. CCU teams rarely made diagnoses of anxiety, depression, or delirium. On at least one screening test, 29.2% of patients were positive. Delirium was present in 7.3%, depression in 13.7%, anxiety in 24%, and possible problem drinking in 37.9%. Although some form of psychiatric treatment was offered to 58%, there was low agreement between psychiatric diagnoses made by the independent rater and the diagnoses made and treatments used by CCU staff. This suggests that the CCU staff are using psychotropic medications without any clear documentation and perhaps clear understanding of the psychiatric diagnoses they are treating. In summary, we found high rates of psychiatric disorders in adult CCU patients but low rates of detection and only moderate rates of treatment by CCU staff.

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