Identifying and responding to delirium in acute stroke: clinical team members’ understandings

Gail Carin-Levy, Kath Nicol, Frederike van Wijck, Gillian Mead, Chris McVittie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Delirium is associated with increased mortality, morbidity, and length of hospital stay. In the acute stroke setting, delirium identification is challenging due to the complexity of cognitive screening in this patient group. The aim of this study was to explore how members of interprofessional stroke-unit teams identified and responded to a potential delirium in a patient. Online focus groups and interviews utilizing case vignettes were conducted with 15 participants: nurses, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, and physiotherapists working in acute stroke services. Participants’ understandings of delirium varied, most participants did not identify the symptoms of a possible hypoactive delirium, and nearly all participants discussed delirium symptoms in tentative terms. Aspects of interprofessional working were discussed through the expression of distinct roles around delirium identification. Although participants demonstrated an ethos of person-focused care, there are ongoing challenges involved in early identification and management of delirium in stroke survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number1
Early online date24 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • acute stroke
  • constructivist grounded theory
  • delirium
  • focus groups
  • interprofessional care
  • qualitative
  • Scotland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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