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J Psychosom Res. 2008 Sep;65(3):207-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.05.015.

Defining delirium for the International Classification of Diseases, 11th Revision.

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Department of Adult Psychiatry, Midwestern Regional Hospital, Limerick, Ireland.



The development of ICD-11 provides an opportunity to update the description of delirium according to emerging data that have added to our understanding of this complex neuropsychiatric syndrome.


Synthetic article based on published work considered by the authors to be relevant to the definition of delirium.


The current DSM-IV definition of delirium is preferred to the ICD-10 because of its greater inclusivity. Evidence does not support major changes in the principal components of present definitions but a number of key issues for the updated definition were identified. These include better account of non-cognitive features, more guidance for rating contextual diagnostic items, clearer definition regarding the interface with dementia, and accounting for illness severity, clinical subtypes and course.


Development of the ICD definition of delirium can allow for more targeted research and clinical effort.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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