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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Oct;52(10):1744-9.

The delirium index, a measure of the severity of delirium: new findings on reliability, validity, and responsiveness.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies, St Mary's Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



To assess the reliability, validity, and responsiveness of an instrument for measuring the severity of delirium, the Delirium Index (DI).


Prospective cohort study, with repeated patient assessments at multiple points in the hospital, at 8 weeks after discharge, and at 6 and 12 months after admission.


The medical services of a primary acute-care hospital.


Medical admissions aged 65 and older: 165 with delirium and dementia, 57 with delirium only, 55 with dementia only, and 41 with neither.


Severity of delirium symptoms was measured using the DI. Delirium was diagnosed using the Confusion Assessment Method. Other measures included the Mini-Mental State Examination, Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly, Barthel Index (BI), premorbid instrumental activities of daily living, Charlson Comorbidity Index, Clinical Severity of Illness scale (CSI), and the Acute Physiology Score (APS).


The intraclass correlation coefficient of interrater reliability was 0.98. Two measures of fluctuation were significantly higher in patients with delirium than in those without delirium. At baseline, the DI was correlated with the BI, APS, and CSI in delirious patients with (correlation coefficient (r)=-0.43, 0.17, and 0.36, respectively) or without (r=-0.44, 0.39, 0.22, respectively) dementia. At 8 weeks, in delirious patients with and without dementia, internal responsiveness as measured by effect sizes was -0.60 and -0.74, respectively, and the standardized response mean for both groups was -0.64. Low to good levels of external responsiveness were found.


The DI appears to be a reliable, valid, and responsive measure of the severity of delirium, in patients with delirium, with or without dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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