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Open Access Research article

Prevalence and outcomes of delirium in community and non-acute care settings in people without dementia: a report from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging

Melissa K Andrew, Susan H Freter and Kenneth Rockwood*

Author Affiliations

Division of Geriatric Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

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BMC Medicine 2006, 4:15  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-4-15

Published: 23 June 2006

Abstract

Background

While delirium is common among older adults in acute care hospitals, its prevalence in other settings has been less well studied. We examined delirium prevalence and outcomes in a large cohort of older Canadians living outside of acute care.

Methods

In this secondary analysis of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, the prevalence of clinically diagnosed delirium was estimated and five-year survival was compared with that of individuals with dementia of graded severity.

Results

Delirium was very uncommon (prevalence <0.5%) and was associated with reduced survival, similar to that of moderate-to-severe dementia.

Conclusion

In this cohort of older Canadians, delirium in non-demented people was associated with very low 5-year survival, at levels comparable with advanced dementia. Although it is common in hospital, delirium is uncommon among older adults in their usual place of residence, suggesting that it is a potent stimulus to seek medical care.