Advancing specificity in delirium: The delirium subtyping initiative

Emily M.L. Bowman, Nathan E. Brummel, Gideon A. Caplan, Colm Cunningham, Lis A. Evered, Kirsten M. Fiest, Timothy D. Girard, Thomas A. Jackson, Sara C. LaHue, Heidi L. Lindroth, Alasdair M.J. Maclullich, Daniel F. McAuley, Esther S. Oh, Mark A. Oldham, Valerie J. Page, Pratik P. Pandharipande, Kelly M. Potter, Pratik Sinha, Arjen J.C. Slooter, Aoife M. SweeneyZoë Tieges, Edwin Van Dellen, Mary Elizabeth Wilcox, Henrik Zetterberg, Emma L. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Delirium, a common syndrome with heterogeneous etiologies and clinical presentations, is associated with poor long-term outcomes. Recording and analyzing all delirium equally could be hindering the field's understanding of pathophysiology and identification of targeted treatments. Current delirium subtyping methods reflect clinically evident features but likely do not account for underlying biology. METHODS: The Delirium Subtyping Initiative (DSI) held three sessions with an international panel of 25 experts. RESULTS: Meeting participants suggest further characterization of delirium features to complement the existing Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition Text Revision diagnostic criteria. These should span the range of delirium-spectrum syndromes and be measured consistently across studies. Clinical features should be recorded in conjunction with biospecimen collection, where feasible, in a standardized way, to determine temporal associations of biology coincident with clinical fluctuations. DISCUSSION: The DSI made recommendations spanning the breadth of delirium research including clinical features, study planning, data collection, and data analysis for characterization of candidate delirium subtypes. Highlights: Delirium features must be clearly defined, standardized, and operationalized. Large datasets incorporating both clinical and biomarker variables should be analyzed together. Delirium screening should incorporate communication and reasoning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-194
Number of pages12
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • acute encephalopathy
  • biomarkers
  • clinical features
  • cognitive change
  • delirium
  • endotype
  • subphenotype
  • subtype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Epidemiology


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