Nurses Opinions Regarding Delirium Care in the Older General Hospital Population and in Older Cardiac Surgery Patients Specifically: A Multicentre Survey among Dutch Nurses


Background: Delirium is a high prevalent postoperative complication in older cardiac surgery patients and can have drastic consequence for the patient. Preventive interventions, diagnosis and treatment of delirium require specialized knowledge and skills. Objective: To gain insight in the current opinion and beliefs of nurses in hospitals concerning prevention, diagnosis and treatment of delirium in older hospital patients in general and specifically in older cardiac surgery patients. Methods: In a cross-sectional study from February to July 2010, we distributed a survey on beliefs on delirium care among 368 nurses in three hospitals in the Netherlands, in one hospital in all wards with older patients and in two hospitals in the cardiac surgery wards only. Results: Although in literature incidence rates up to 54.9% in cardiac surgery patients in hospitals are reported, with a response rate of 68% (250), half of the nurses believe that the incidence of delirium is not even 10%. Two thirds think that delirium in patients is preventable. Although, the Delirium Observation Scale is most often used for screening delirium, nearly all nurses do not routinely screen patients for delirium. Opinions on delirium of nurses working in cardiac surgery wards did not differ from nurses caring for older patients in other hospital wards. Conclusions: Nurses do have knowledge on delirium care, but there is a gap between the reported incidence in literature and the estimation of the occurrence of delirium by nurses. A two-way causal relationship emerges: because nurses underestimate the occurrence, they do not screen patients on a routine basis. And because they do not screen patients on a routine basis they underestimate the incidence.

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Ettema, R. , Harten, D. , Hoogerduijn, J. , Hoekstra, T. and Schuurmans, M. (2014) Nurses Opinions Regarding Delirium Care in the Older General Hospital Population and in Older Cardiac Surgery Patients Specifically: A Multicentre Survey among Dutch Nurses. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 5, 1352-1364. doi: 10.4236/ijcm.2014.521173.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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