The epidemiology of delirium: Challenges and opportunities for population studies

Daniel H.J. Davis, Stefan H. Kreisel, Graciela Muniz Terrera, Andrew J. Hall, Alessandro Morandi, Malaz Boustani, Karin J. Neufeld, Hochang Benjamin Lee, Alasdair M.J. Maclullich, Carol Brayne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Delirium is a serious and common acute neuropsychiatric syndrome that is associated with short- and long-term adverse health outcomes. However, relatively little delirium research has been conducted in unselected populations. Epidemiologic research in such populations has the potential to resolve several questions of clinical significance in delirium. Part 1 of this article explores the importance of population selection, case-ascertainment, attrition, and confounding. Part 2 examines a specific question in delirium epidemiology: What is the relationship between delirium and trajectories of cognitive decline? This section assesses previous work through two systematic reviews and proposes a design for investigating delirium in the context of longitudinal cohort studies. Such a design requires robust links between community and hospital settings. Practical considerations for case-ascertainment in the hospital, as well as the necessary quality control of these programs, are outlined. We argue that attention to these factors is important if delirium research is to benefit fully from a population perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1189
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Delirium
  • Dementia
  • Epidemiology
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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