Visual and Hearing Impairment Are Associated With Delirium in Hospitalized Patients: Results of a Multisite Prevalence Study

Italian Study Group of Delirium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: Sensory deficits are important risk factors for delirium but have been investigated in single-center studies and single clinical settings. This multicenter study aims to evaluate the association between hearing and visual impairment or bi-sensory impairment (visual and hearing impairment) and delirium. Design: Cross-sectional study nested in the 2017 “Delirium Day” project. Setting and Participants: Patients 65 years and older admitted to acute hospital medical wards, emergency departments, rehabilitation wards, nursing homes, and hospices in Italy. Methods: Delirium was assessed with the 4AT (a short tool for delirium assessment) and sensory deficits with a clinical evaluation. We assessed the association between delirium, hearing and visual impairment in multivariable logistic regression models, adjusting for: Model 1, we included predisposing factors for delirium (ie, dementia, weight loss and autonomy in the activities of daily living); Model 2, we added to Model 1 variables, which could be considered precipitating factors for delirium (ie, psychoactive drugs and urinary catheters). Results: A total of 3038 patients were included; delirium prevalence was 25%. Patients with delirium had a higher prevalence of hearing impairment (30.5% vs 18%; P <.001), visual impairment (24.2% vs 15.7%; P <.01) and bi-sensory impairment (16.2% vs 7.5%) compared with those without delirium. In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, the presence of bi-sensory impairment was associated with delirium in Model 1 [odds ratio (OR) 1.5, confidence interval (CI) 1.2–2.1; P =.00] and in Model 2 (OR 1.4; CI 1.1–1.9; P =.02), whereas the presence of visual and hearing impairment alone was not associated with delirium either in Model 1 (OR 0.8; CI 0.6–1.2, P =.36; OR 1.1; CI 0.8–1.4; P =.42) or in Model 2 (OR 0.8, CI 0.6–1.2, P =.27; OR 1.1, CI 0.8–1.4, P =.63). Conclusions and implications: Our findings support the importance of routine screening and specific interventions by a multidisciplinary team to implement optimal management of sensory impairments and hence prevention and the management of the patients with delirium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1167.e3
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Hearing impairment
  • delirium
  • older
  • sensory deficits
  • visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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