Nurse perceptions of the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale in two palliative care inpatient units: a focus group study

Annmarie Hosie, Elizabeth Lobb, Meera Agar, Patricia Davidson, Richard Chye, Jane Phillips

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    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims and objectives: To explore nurse perceptions of the feasibility of integrating the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale into practice within the inpatient palliative care setting. Background: Delirium occurs frequently in palliative care inpatient populations, yet is under-recognised. Exploring feasibility of delirium screening tools in this setting can provide insights into how recognition can be improved. Design: This was a qualitative study using a focus group methodology. Method: Four semi-structured focus groups were conducted with 21 nurses working in two Australian palliative care units. Focus groups were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Three major themes were identified: (1) Delirium screening using the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale is feasible, but then what? (2) Nuances, ambiguity and clinical complexity; and (3) Implementing structured processes requires firmer foundations. Themes describe how nurses perceived the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale to be an easy and brief screening tool which raised their awareness of delirium. They were largely willing to adopt it into practice, yet had uncertainty and misunderstandings of the tool specifically and delirium screening generally, application in a palliative care context, interventions for delirium and impact of screening on medical practice. Conclusion: The Nursing Delirium Screening Scale is feasible for use in a palliative care inpatient setting, but requires investigation of its psychometric properties before routine use in this patient population. Relevance to clinical practice: Nurses require understanding of delirium, tailored guidance and a united approach with doctors to support their effective use of a delirium screening tool in the palliative care unit. Delirium practice change in this setting will also require nurses to become more active leaders and collaborators within their interdisciplinary teams.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3276-3285
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Issue number21-22
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


    • Assessment
    • Delirium
    • Focus group
    • Hospitalised patients
    • Nursing
    • Palliative care
    • Screening tools


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