Evaluating attention in delirium: a comparison of bedside tests of attention
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Adamis, Dimitrios; Meagher, David; Murray, Orla; O'Neill, Donagh; O'Mahony, Edmond; Mulligan, Owen; McCarthy, Geraldine (2015). Evaluating attention in delirium: a comparison of bedside tests of attention. Geriatrics & Gerontology International 16 (9), 1028-1035
AimImpaired attention is a core diagnostic feature for delirium. The present study examined the discriminating properties for patients with delirium versus those with dementia and/or no neurocognitive disorder of four objective tests of attention: digit span, vigilance A test, serial 7s subtraction and months of the year backwards together with global clinical subjective rating of attention. MethodsThis as a prospective study of older patients admitted consecutively in a general hospital. Participants were assessed using the Confusion Assessment Method, Delirium Rating Scale-98 Revised and Montreal Cognitive Assessment scales, and months of the year backwards. Pre-existing dementia was diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition criteria. ResultsThe sample consisted of 200 participants (mean age 81.16.5 years; 50% women; pre-existing cognitive impairment in 126 [63%]). A total of 34 (17%) were identified with delirium (Confusion Assessment Method +). The five approaches to assessing attention had statistically significant correlations (P&lt;0.05). Discriminant analysis showed that clinical subjective rating of attention in conjunction with the months of the year backwards had the best discriminatory ability to identify Confusion Assessment Method-defined delirium, and to discriminate patients with delirium from those with dementia and/or normal cognition. Both of these approaches had high sensitivity, but modest specificity. ConclusionObjective tests are useful for prediction of non-delirium, but lack specificity for a delirium diagnosis. Global attentional deficits were more indicative of delirium than deficits of specific domains of attention. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2016; 16: 1028-1035.