Publication Details

Dewing, J. (2009). Confusion. In M. Mallik, C. Hall & D. Howard (Eds.), Nursing Knowledge and Practice: Foundations for Decision Making (pp. 387-405). United Kingdom: Baillière Tindall/Elsevier.

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Nursing Knowledge and Practice


There is a difference between the everyday experience and understanding of confusion (for example missing the point or being suddenly caught out and feeling a sense of embarrassment) and confusion in the context of health care. Here, confusion is fundamentally a lack of orientation with respect to time, place and/ or self. It is generally marked by poor attention and thinking, which leads to difficulties in comprehension, loss of short-term memory and usually, irritability alternating with drowsiness. Having confusion often means the person does not or cannot act as others would expect them to in any given context or situation. It is vital to appreciate that the lived experience of what it is really like for the person is one where they can feel bewildered, perplexed and unable to self-orientate and it is others around the person who appear to be saying and doing unusual things.

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