Delirium is a common and serious acute neuropsychiatric syndrome which is often missed in routine clinical care. Inattention is the core cognitive feature. Diagnostic test accuracy (including cut-points) of a smartphone Delirium App (DelApp) for assessing attention deficits was assessed in older hospital inpatients.
This was a case-control study of hospitalised patients aged ≥65 years with delirium (with or without pre-existing cognitive impairment), who were compared to patients with dementia without delirium, and patients without cognitive impairment. Reference standard delirium assessment, which included a neuropsychological test battery, was based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 criteria. A separate blinded assessor administered the DelApp arousal assessment (score 0–4) and attention task (0–6) yielding an overall score of 0 to 10 (lower scores indicate poorer performance). Analyses included receiver operating characteristic curves and sensitivity and specificity. Optimal cut-points for delirium detection were determined using Youden’s index.
A total of 187 patients were recruited, mean age 83.8 (range 67–98) years, 152 (81%) women; n = 61 with delirium; n = 61 with dementia without delirium; and n = 65 without cognitive impairment. Patients with delirium performed poorly on the DelApp (median score = 4/10; inter-quartile range 3.0, 5.5) compared to patients with dementia (9.0; 5.5, 10.0) and those without cognitive impairment (10.0; 10.0, 10.0). Area under the curve for detecting delirium was 0.89 (95% Confidence Interval 0.84, 0.94). At an optimal cut-point of ≤8, sensitivity was 91.7% (84.7%, 98.7%) and specificity 74.2% (66.5%, 81.9%) for discriminating delirium from the other groups. Specificity was 68.3% (56.6%, 80.1%) for discriminating delirium from dementia (cut-point ≤6).
Patients with delirium (with or without pre-existing cognitive impairment) perform poorly on the DelApp compared to patients with dementia and those without cognitive impairment. A cut-point of ≤8/10 is suggested as having optimal sensitivity and specificity. The DelApp is a promising tool for assessment of attention deficits associated with delirium in older hospitalised adults, many of whom have prior cognitive impairment, and should be further validated in representative patient cohorts.
- diagnostic tests
- hospitalised patients