Patient Care

Effectiveness of Multicomponent Nonpharmacological Delirium Interventions


Clinical question: How effective are multicomponent, nonpharmacological interventions at reducing delirium and preventing poor outcomes?

Background: Delirium is an acute disorder with significant morbidity and mortality. Systemic reviews and clinical guidelines recommend targeted, multicomponent, nonpharmacologic strategies for prevention. The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) uses an interdisciplinary team to implement nonpharmacologic interventions, such as reorientation, early mobilization, therapeutic activities, hydration, nutrition, sleep strategies, and hearing and vision adaptation. Trials of nonpharmacological strategies to prevent this disorder have been limited to small-scale studies.

Study design: Systemic literature review and meta-analysis.

Synopsis: Fourteen studies involving 12 unique interventions were identified and results were pooled for meta-analysis, with primary outcomes being incidence and falls. Secondary outcomes were length of stay, institutionalization, and change in functional or cognitive status. Eleven studies were found to have demonstrated significant reductions in delirium incidence (odds ratio [OR], 0.47; 95% CI, 0.38-0.58), with four trials reducing delirium incidence by 44% (OR, 0.56; 95%CI, 0.42-0.76). Four studies demonstrated a significant decrease in the rate of falls (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.25-0.60), with two studies reducing falls by 64% (OR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.22-0.61). Institutionalization and length of stay did not demonstrate statistical significance between the two groups.

Bottom line: Multicomponent, nonpharmacological delirium prevention interventions were found to be effective in decreasing the occurrence of both delirium and falls during hospitalization in older persons.

Citation: Hshieh TT, Yue J, Oh E, et al. Effectiveness of multicomponent nonpharmacological delirium interventions. JAMA. 2015;175(4):512-520.

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