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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Nov;57(11):2029-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02485.x. Epub 2009 Sep 15.

An intervention integrated into daily clinical practice reduces the incidence of delirium during hospitalization in elderly patients.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain.



To analyze the effectiveness of a multicomponent intervention integrated into daily practice for the prevention of in-hospital delirium in elderly patients.


Controlled study comparing an intervention in a geriatric unit (GI) with usual care in two internal medicine services (UC).


University hospital in Madrid, Spain.


Five hundred forty-two consecutive patients (170 GI, 372 UC), aged 70 and older, with any of the risk criteria for delirium (cognitive impairment, visual impairment, acute disease severity, dehydration).


Educational measures and specific actions in seven risk areas (orientation, sensory impairment, sleep, mobilization, hydration, nutrition, drug use). Daily monitoring of adherence.


Baseline characteristics, risk factors for delirium, and quality care indicators were analyzed. The primary endpoint was incidence of delirium assessed daily. The secondary endpoint was functional decline, defined as loss of independence in any of the activities of daily living. The intervention effect was evaluated using logistic regression analysis.


Delirium affected 11.7% of the GI group and 18.5% of the UC group (P=.04). After adjustment for confounders, the intervention was associated with lower incidence of delirium (odds ratio=0.4, 95% confidence interval=0.24-0.77; P=.005). In the patients who experienced delirium, severity, length, and recurrence of episodes were similar in both groups. Adherence to the intervention protocols was 75.7%. The intervention reduced the rate of functional decline (45.5% in GI vs 56.3% in UC, P=.03) and improved other quality indicators (e.g., mobilization and physical restraints reduction).


A multicomponent, nonpharmacological intervention integrated into routine practice reduces delirium during hospitalization in older patients, improves quality of care, and can be implemented without additional resources in a public healthcare system.

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