Increasing delirium skills at the front door: results from a repeated survey on delirium knowledge and attitudes

Rodric Peter Llewelyn Jenkin, Adam Al-Attar, Sarah Richardson, Phyo Kyaw Myint, Alasdair M J MacLullich, Daniel H J Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: delirium is under-recognised in comparison to other common and serious acute disorders. A 2006 survey of UK junior doctors (not undertaking specialist training) identified poor knowledge of the diagnostic criteria and treatment of delirium. We hypothesised that increased prominence accorded to delirium in the form of national initiatives and guidelines may have had an impact on understanding among junior doctors.

OBJECTIVE: we repeated a multi-centre survey of knowledge of and attitudes to delirium in junior doctors (not undertaking specialist training) assessing unselected acute medical presentations (the 'medical take').

DESIGN: questionnaire-based survey in 48 acute hospitals in UK and Ireland.

METHODS: we used questionnaires designed to test understanding of delirium, including prevalence, knowledge of the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria, use of specific screening tools, association with adverse outcomes and pharmacological management.

RESULTS: one thousand two hundred and fifteen trainee physicians participated. Compared with the 2006 cohort, improvements were seen in 9 of 17 knowledge-based questions and overall score improved in the 2013 cohort. Nonetheless, significant deficits in knowledge, particularly for the diagnostic criteria for delirium, remained.

CONCLUSIONS: despite improvements in some aspects of delirium knowledge, the diagnostic criteria for delirium remain poorly understood. Challenges remain in ensuring adequate training for junior doctors in delirium.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAge and Ageing
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2016


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