Delirium and Behavioral Symptoms in Persons With Dementia at Hospital Admission: Mediating Factors

Marie Boltz, Ashley Kuzmik, Barbara Resnick, Rhonda Belue, Ying Ling Jao, Anju Paudel, Liza Behrens, Doug Leslie, Liron Sinvani, James E. Galvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hospitalized persons with dementia are at risk of delirium with behavioral symptoms, predisposing them to a higher rate of complications and caregiver distress. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between delirium severity in patients with dementia upon admission to the hospital and the manifestation of behavioral symptoms, and to evaluate the mediating effects of cognitive and physical function, pain, medications, and restraints. Methods: This descriptive study used baseline data from 455 older adults with dementia enrolled in a cluster randomized clinical trial that tested the efficacy of family centered function-focused care. Mediation analyses were conducted to determine the indirect effect of cognitive and physical function, pain, medications (antipsychotics, anxiolytics, sedative/hypnotics, narcotics, and number of medications), and restraints on behavioral symptoms, controlling for age, sex, race, and educational level. Results: The majority of the 455 participants were female (59.1%), had an average age of 81.5 (SD=8.4), were either white (63.7%) or black (36.3%), and demonstrated one or more behavioral symptoms (93%) and delirium (60%). Hypotheses were partially supported in that physical function, cognitive function, and antipsychotic medication partially mediated the relationship between delirium severity and behavioral symptoms. Conclusion: This study provides preliminary evidence identifying antipsychotic use, low physical function, and significant cognitive impairment as specific targets for clinical intervention and quality improvement in patients with delirium superimposed on dementia at hospital admission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
JournalAlzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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