Predictors of Mortality for Delirium in Palliative Care

Meera Agar, Stephen J Quinn, Gregory Crawford, Christine S Ritchie, Jane Phillips, Aileen Collier, David Currow

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: Delirium has a high mortality rate. Understanding predictors of prognosis in patients with delirium will aid treatment decisions and communication. This study aimed to explore variables associated with death during an established episode of delirium in palliative care when haloperidol treatment had been commenced. Methods: A consecutive cohort of palliative care patients, from 14 centers across four countries, is reported. The outcome of interest was death within 14 days from commencement of haloperidol treatment for delirium. Clinicodemographic variables explored were delirium severity, age, gender, primary life limiting illness, body mass index (BMI), total daily haloperidol dose at baseline (mg), functional status, and comorbidities. Results: One hundred and sixteen palliative care patients where vital status was known were included in the analysis; 45% (n = 52) died within 10 days, and 56% (n = 65) died within 14 days. In multivariate analyses no clinical or demographic variables predicted death, apart from lower BMI in noncancer patients. Conclusion: This study has shown a very high mortality rate within two weeks of commencing haloperidol for delirium in palliative care, with no clear clinical predictors for those with a higher chance of dying. Having a higher BMI offered some benefit in survival, but only in noncancer patients. When delirium occurs in advanced illness, discussion should be initiated about the gravity of the clinical situation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1205-1209
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
    Issue number11
    Early online date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


    • Mortality
    • Delirium
    • Palliative Care


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