Delirium superimposed on dementia strongly predicts worse outcomes in older rehabilitation inpatients

Alessandro Morandi, Daniel Davis, Donna M. Fick, Renato Turco, Malaz Boustani, Elena Lucchi, Fabio Guerini, Sara Morghen, Tiziana Torpilliesi, Simona Gentile, Alasdair M. MacLullich, Marco Trabucchi, Giuseppe Bellelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Objective: Delirium superimposed on dementia (DSD) is common in many settings. Nonetheless, little is known about the association between DSD and clinical outcomes. The study aim was to evaluate the association between DSD and related adverse outcomes at discharge from rehabilitation and at 1-year follow-up in older inpatients undergoing rehabilitation. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Hospital rehabilitation unit. Participants: A total of 2642 patients aged 65 years or older admitted between January 2002 and December 2006. Measurements: Dementia predating rehabilitation admission was detected by DSM-III-R criteria. Delirium was diagnosed with the DSM-IV-TR. The primary outcome was that of walking dependence (Barthel Index mobility subitem score of <15) captured as a trajectory from discharge to 1-year follow-up. A mixed-effects multivariate logistic regression model was used to analyze the association between DSD and outcome, after adjusting for relevant covariates. Secondary outcomes were institutionalization and mortality at 1-year follow-up, and logistic regression models were used to analyze these associations. Results: The median age was 77 years (interquartile range: 71-83). The prevalence of DSD was 8%, and the prevalence of delirium and dementia alone were 4% and 22%, respectively. DSD at admission was found to be significantly associated with almost a 15-fold increase in the odds of walking dependence (odds ratio [OR] 15.5; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 5.6-42.7; P < .01). DSD was also significantly associated with a fivefold increase in the risk of institutionalization (OR 5.0; 95% CI 2.8-8.9; P < .01) and an almost twofold increase in the risk of mortality (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.1-2.8; P = .01). Conclusions: DSD is a strong predictor of functional dependence, institutionalization, and mortality in older patients admitted to a rehabilitation setting, suggesting that strategies to detect DSD routinely in practice should be developed and DSD should be included in prognostic models of health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-354
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Delirium superimposed on dementia strongly predicts worse outcomes in older rehabilitation inpatients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this