Author Identifier

Beverley Ewens

ORCID : 0000-0003-2008-7214

Karla Seaman

ORCID : 0000-0003-4611-9616

Lisa Whitehead

ORCID : 0000-0002-6395-0279

Amanda Towell-Barnard

ORCID : 0000-0002-2475-7724

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMC Nursing


Springer Nature / BMC


School of Nursing and Midwifery / Centre for Research in Aged Care


Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2021

Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research, Edith Cowan University


Ewens, B., Seaman, K., Whitehead, L., Towell-Barnard, A., & Young M. (2021). A delirium prevalence audit and a pre and post evaluation of an interprofessional education intervention to increase staff knowledge about delirium in older adults. BMC Nursing, 20, article 202.



Delirium is more prevalent in older people and estimated to occur in up to 50% of the hospital population. Delirium comprises a spectrum of behaviours, including cognitive and attention deficits, and fluctuating levels of consciousness, often associated with an underlying physiological disturbance. Delirium has been increasingly associated with adverse outcomes. Although often preventable or can at least be mitigated, delirium may not be a standard part of assessment and thus may not be recognized in the early stages when it is most likely to be treated successfully. The aim of this study was to evaluate the level of knowledge of delirium amongst clinicians caring for patients at high risk of developing delirium and to determine whether education can improve clinical assessment of delirium.


Two hundred and forty-six case notes were audited before and 149 were reviewed after the education intervention and implementation of a delirium screening tool. Clinicians at the hospital were invited to complete a questionnaire on knowledge of delirium. The questionnaire was based on a validated tool which contained 39 questions about delirium. The questionnaire also contained 28 questions on delirium knowledge. Additional questions were included to gather demographic information specific to the hospital. Descriptive statistics, chi square and independent t-tests were conducted to test for differences in knowledge between the pre and post periods. The Squire Checklist Reporting Guidelines for Quality Improvement Studies informed the preparation of the manuscript.


The audit demonstrated that the use of a cognitive assessment tool overall increased from 8.5% in pre education to 43% in the post education period. One hundred and fifty-nine staff completed the questionnaire in total, 118 the pre and 41 post. The knowledge subscale score was high pre and post education and no statistically significant difference was observed. The greatest increase in knowledge was related to knowledge of the risk factors subscale. The increase in knowledge (6.8%) was statistically significant.


An interprofessional approach to delirium education was effective in not only increasing awareness of the factors associated with this syndrome but also increased the use of a delirium assessment tool.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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