Nurses’ recognition of hospitalized older patients with delirium and cognitive impairment using the Delirium Observation Screening Scale: a prospective comparison study

Wolfgang Hasemann, Debbie Tolson, Jon Godwin, Rebecca Spirig, Irena Anna Frei, Reto W. Kressig

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the current study was to report findings about delirium detection when ward nurses screened for delirium in patients with cognitive impairment using the Delirium Observation Screening Scale (DOSS) in comparison to the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM). A secondary analysis was performed of research data collected in 2010 at a Swiss tertiary university hospital. During the first 5 days after admission, patients 70 and older with cognitive impairment were screened for delirium using the DOSS. Throughout patients' hospital stay, research assistants also completed the CAM on a daily basis. A total of 138 patients who did not have delirium initially participated in the study. Of these patients, 44 (32%) developed delirium with a median duration of 3 days (Q1 = 1.25; Q3 = 5.00). Ward nurses correctly identified delirium using the DOSS in 56% of cases (sensitivity) and no delirium in 92% of cases (specificity). Although the DOSS was 100% correct in detecting patients with hyperactive delirium, the identification rate decreased to 60% for patients with mixed delirium subtype and 38% for patients with hypoactive delirium. Delirium screening using observational methods may be insufficiently sensitive and should be supplemented with a formal attention test.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gerontological Nursing
Issue number12
Early online date29 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2018


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