Publication Details

Coyle, M. Anne., Burns, P. & Traynor, V. (2017). Is it my job? The role of RNs in the assessment and identification of delirium in hospitalized older adults: an exploratory qualitative study. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 43 (4), 29-37.


Delirium is characterized by acute and fluctuating cognitive decline, which is often missed in older adults who are assumed to be experiencing age-related changes or dementia. Delirium affects up to 50% of hospitalized older adults. The aim of the current study was to (a) explore current practices of RNs in assessing and identifying delirium in hospitalized older adults and (b) inform new educational initiatives. Qualitative methods were adopted using eight semi-structured group interviews with 24 RNs. Thematic analysis revealed a dichotomy in practice where RNs described delirium assessment and identification as (a) It's Not My Job, (b) It is My Job, and (c) It's Complex. The imperative to improve delirium assessment and identification to create safer and more caring health care environments means the current findings provide important evidence to build into practice and education strategies. The current authors have developed engaging educational interventions and begun implementation at the study site to develop delirium assessment and identification capacity, which moves clinicians beyond awareness and aims at practice adherence or the consistent application of evidence-based delirium assessment.



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