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BackgroundThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM-5) provides new criteria for delirium diagnosis. We examined delirium diagnosis using these new criteria compared with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fourth edition (DSM-IV) in a large dataset of patients assessed for delirium and related presentations.MethodsPatient data (n¿=¿768) from six prospectively collected cohorts, clinically assessed using DSM-IV and the Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-98 (DRS-R98), were pooled. Post hoc application of DRS-R98 item scores were used to rate DSM-5 criteria. `Strict¿ and `relaxed¿ DSM-5 criteria to ascertain delirium were compared to rates determined by DSM-IV.ResultsUsing DSM-IV by clinical assessment, delirium was found in 510/768 patients (66%). Strict DSM-5 criteria categorized 158 as delirious including 155 (30%) with DSM-IV delirium, whereas relaxed DSM-5 criteria identified 466 as delirious, including 455 (89%) diagnosed by DSM-IV (P <0.001). The concordance between the different diagnostic methods was: 53% (¿¿=¿0.22) between DSM-IV and the strict DSM-5, 91% (¿¿=¿0.82) between the DSM-IV and relaxed DSM-5 criteria and 60% (¿¿=¿0.29) between the strict versus relaxed DSM-5 criteria. Only 155 cases were identified as delirium by all three approaches. The 55 (11%) patients with DSM-IV delirium who were not rated as delirious by relaxed criteria had lower mean DRS-R98 total scores than those rated as delirious (13.7¿±¿3.9 versus 23.7¿±¿6.0; P <0.001). Conversely, mean DRS-R98 score (21.1¿±¿6.4) for the 70% not rated as delirious by strict DSM-5 criteria was consistent with suggested cutoff scores for full syndromal delirium. Only 11 cases met DSM-5 criteria that were not deemed to have DSM-IV delirium.ConclusionsThe concordance between DSM-IV and the new DSM-5 delirium criteria varies considerably depending on the interpretation of criteria. Overly-strict adherence for some new text details in DSM-5 criteria would reduce the number of delirium cases diagnosed; however, a more `relaxed¿ approach renders DSM-5 criteria comparable to DSM-IV with minimal impact on their actual application and is thus recommended.