Acute delirium and functional decline in the hospitalized elderly patient

A. M. Murray, S. E. Levkoff, T. T. Wetle, L. Beckett, P. D. Cleary, J. D. Schor, L. A. Lipsitz, J. W. Rowe, D. A. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations


Background. Delirium is often considered a transient cognitive syndrome. Its effect on long-term physical function, however, has not been well defined. Methods. In a prospective study of 325 hospitalized community and nursing home elderly, we analyzed the effect of inhospital delirium on subsequent physical function. ADL performance was assessed prior to admission, and at 3 and 6 months after hospital discharge. Results. There was a strong univariate (unadjusted) association between incident delirium and functional decline (p < .02) Delirious subjects lost a mean of almost one ADL, as measured 3 months after hospital discharge. Using multivariate linear regression analysis, with adjusted change in function as the dependent variable, delirium persisted as the sole predictor of loss of function (p = .009) at 3 months after discharge. The functional decline persisted at 6 months after hospital discharge. Conclusion. This finding of a nontransient, perhaps permanent consequence of delirium invites reexamination of the definition of delirium from that of an acute, reversible syndrome to one of acute onset with long-term sequelae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)M181-M186
JournalJournals of Gerontology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Acute delirium and functional decline in the hospitalized elderly patient'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this