Prognostic significance of delirium subtypes in critically ill medical and surgical patients: a secondary analysis of a prospective multicenter study

Lisa Smit*, Eveline J.A. Wiegers, Zoran Trogrlic, Wim J.R. Rietdijk, Diederik Gommers, Erwin Ista, Mathieu van der Jagt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: The prognostic implication of delirium subtypes in critically ill medical and surgical patients is scarcely investigated. The objective was to determine how delirium subtypes are associated with hospital mortality and other clinical outcomes. Methods: We performed a secondary analysis on data from a prospective multicenter study aimed at implementation of delirium-oriented measures, conducted between 2012 and 2015 in The Netherlands. We included adults (≥ 18 years) admitted to the medical or surgical intensive care unit (ICU). Exclusion criteria were neurological admission diagnosis, persistent coma or ICU readmissions. Delirium was assessed using the Confusion Assessment Method-ICU or Intensive Care Delirium Screening Checklist, and delirium subtypes (hypoactive, hyperactive, or mixed) were classified using the Richmond Agitation–Sedation Scale. The main outcome was hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes were ICU mortality, ICU length of stay, coma, mechanical ventilation, and use of antipsychotics, sedatives, benzodiazepines and opioids. Results: Delirium occurred in 381 (24.4%) of 1564 patients (52.5% hypoactive, 39.1% mixed, 7.3% hyperactive). After case-mix adjustment, patients with mixed delirium had higher hospital mortality than non-delirious patients (OR 3.09, 95%CI 1.79–5.33, p = 0.001), whereas hypoactive patients did not (OR 1.34, 95%CI 0.71–2.55, p = 0.37). Similar results were found for ICU mortality. Compared to non-delirious patients, both subtypes had longer ICU stay, more coma, increased mechanical ventilation frequency and duration, and received more antipsychotics, sedatives, benzodiazepines and opioids. Except for coma and benzodiazepine use, the most unfavourable outcomes were observed in patients with mixed delirium. Conclusions: Patients with mixed delirium had the most unfavourable outcomes, including higher mortality, compared with no delirium. These differences argue for distinguishing delirium subtypes in clinical practice and future research. Trial registration NCT01952899.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalJournal of Intensive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The iDECePTIvE study was supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw Grant Number 171203008).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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