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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Epidemiology and outcomes of people with dementia, delirium, and unspecified cognitive impairment in the general hospital: prospective cohort study of 10,014 admissions
Author(s): Reynish, Emma
Hapca, Simona M
De, Souza Nicosha
Cvoro, Vera
Donnan, Peter T
Guthrie, Bruce
Keywords: Dementia
Cognitive impairment
Length of stay
Issue Date: 27-Jul-2017
Citation: Reynish E, Hapca SM, De Souza N, Cvoro V, Donnan PT & Guthrie B (2017) Epidemiology and outcomes of people with dementia, delirium, and unspecified cognitive impairment in the general hospital: prospective cohort study of 10,014 admissions, BMC Medicine, 15 (1), Art. No.: 140.
Abstract: Background  Cognitive impairment of various kinds is common in older people admitted to hospital, but previous research has usually focused on single conditions in highly-selected groups and has rarely examined associations with outcomes. This study examined prevalence and outcomes of cognitive impairment in a large unselected cohort of people aged 65+ with an emergency medical admission.  Methods  Between January 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, admissions to a single general hospital acute medical unit aged 65+ underwent a structured specialist nurse assessment (n = 10,014). We defined ‘cognitive spectrum disorder’ (CSD) as any combination of delirium, known dementia, or Abbreviated Mental Test (AMT) score < 8/10. Routine data for length of stay (LOS), mortality, and readmission were linked to examine associations with outcomes.  Results  A CSD was present in 38.5% of all patients admitted aged over 65, and in more than half of those aged over 85. Overall, 16.7% of older people admitted had delirium alone, 7.9% delirium superimposed on known dementia, 9.4% known dementia alone, and 4.5% unspecified cognitive impairment (AMT score < 8/10, no delirium, no known dementia). Of those with known dementia, 45.8% had delirium superimposed. Outcomes were worse in those with CSD compared to those without – LOS 25.0 vs. 11.8 days, 30-day mortality 13.6% vs. 9.0%, 1-year mortality 40.0% vs. 26.0%, 1-year death or readmission 62.4% vs. 51.5% (allP < 0.01). There was relatively little difference by CSD type, although people with delirium superimposed on dementia had the longest LOS, and people with dementia the worst mortality at 1 year.  Conclusions  CSD is common in older inpatients and associated with considerably worse outcomes, with little variation between different types of CSD. Healthcare systems should systematically identify and develop care pathways for older people with CSD admitted as medical emergencies, and avoid only focusing on condition-specific pathways such as those for dementia or delirium alone.
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Rights: © The Author(s). 2017 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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