Delirium is an acute, reversible change in mental status that occurs in over 40% of persons with dementia. Delirium superimposed on dementia (DSD) leads to increased mortality, increased costs, nursing home placement, early re-hospitalization, and functional decline. Delirium in persons with dementia appears to substantially worsen outcomes in persons with dementia----who are already burdened with functional decline. The purpose of this proposed study is to improve nursing detection and management of delirium in persons with dementia and decrease the duration and patient complications of delirium. To achieve these objectives, a multi- component intervention strategy called, Early Nurse Detection of Delirium Superimposed on Dementia (END DSD) will be tested. We propose a paired cluster randomized controlled trial (C-RCT) of three hospitals with a total of six inpatient units and 390 hospitalized persons with dementia to achieve these objectives. END DSD will consist of 1) Nursing education regarding DSD, 2) Computerized decision support through standardized delirium assessment and management screens via the electronic health record (EHR), 3) an identified unit champion on each intervention unit who will be utilized to persuade others nurses to implement the innovation, and 4) Weekly feedback to the nursing staff to further facilitate assessment and management of delirium. We are testing the following specific aims: A.
1 Specific Aim 1 : To determine whether the intervention "END DSD" improves nurse detection and management of DSD. A.
2 Specific Aim 2 : To determine the effect of the "END DSD" intervention on patient clinical outcomes, including duration of delirium and rate of psychoactive medications. This study focuses on a costly and prevalent problem, and utilizes a novel approach that via the EHR will clearly be replicable across settings of care. END-DSD has the potential to significantly improve quality of life and decrease costs of care by: improving the detection of DSD;increasing the use of non-pharmacological management of DSD;shortening the duration of delirium and hospital length of stay;and decreasing the use of inappropriate medications, thus mitigating the complications of DSD. This project builds on over a decade of funded research and clinical practice by the investigators, and brings their unique and collaborative efforts together in an innovative manner to impact the under addressed problem of DSD in hospitalized older adults.

Public Health Relevance

Delirium (acute confusion) is common and costly in persons with dementia, resulting in longer hospital stays, more complications, and greater functional decline. This research tests the use of the electronic health record, education, and regular feedback to nurses to improve detection and management of delirium. Ultimately, findings will direct ways to improve acute care of this vulnerable population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Research Project (R01)
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Nursing Science: Adults and Older Adults Study Section (NSAA)
Program Officer
Tully, Lois
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Pennsylvania State University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Nursing
University Park
United States
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Paulson, Christina May; Monroe, Todd; Mion, Lorraine C (2014) Pain assessment in hospitalized older adults with dementia and delirium. J Gerontol Nurs 40:10-5
Fick, Donna M; DiMeglio, Brittney; McDowell, Jane A et al. (2013) Do you know your patient? Knowing individuals with dementia combined with evidence-based care promotes function and satisfaction in hospitalized older adults. J Gerontol Nurs 39:2-4
Fick, Donna M; Steis, Melinda R; Mion, Lorraine C et al. (2011) Computerized decision support for delirium superimposed on dementia in older adults. J Gerontol Nurs 37:39-47
Morandi, Alessandro; Vasilevskis, Eduard E; Pandharipande, Pratik P et al. (2011) Inappropriate medications in elderly ICU survivors: where to intervene? Arch Intern Med 171:1032-4