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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013 Nov;61(11):1983-93. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12522. Epub 2013 Oct 28.

Educational interventions to improve recognition of delirium: a systematic review.

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Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.


Delirium is a common and serious condition that is underrecognized in older adults in a variety of healthcare settings. It is poorly recognized because of deficiencies in provider knowledge and its atypical presentation. Early recognition of delirium is warranted to better manage the disease and prevent the adverse outcomes associated with it. The purpose of this article is to review the literature concerning educational interventions focusing on recognition of delirium. The Medline and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINHAL) databases were searched for studies with specific educational focus in the recognition of delirium, and 26 studies with various designs were identified. The types of interventions used were classified according to the Predisposing, Reinforcing and Enabling Constructs in Educational Diagnosis and Evaluation (PRECEDE) model, and outcomes were sorted according to Kirkpatrick's hierarchy. Educational strategies combining predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors achieved better results than strategies that included one or two of these components. Studies using predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing strategies together were more often effective in producing changes in staff behavior and participant outcomes. Based on this review, improvements in knowledge and skill alone seem insufficient to favorably influence recognition of delirium. Educational interventions to recognize delirium are most effective when formal teaching is interactive and is combined with strategies including engaging leadership and using clinical pathways and assessment tools. The goal of the current study was to systematically review the published literature to determine the effect of educational interventions on recognition of delirium.


delirium; education; recognition

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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