A Scoping Review to Map Empirical Evidence Regarding Key Domains and Questions in the Clinical Pathway of Delirium in Palliative Care Journal Articles uri icon

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  • CONTEXT: Based on the clinical care pathway of delirium in palliative care (PC), a published analytic framework (AF) formulated research questions in key domains and recommended a scoping review to identify evidence gaps. OBJECTIVES: To produce a literature map for key domains of the published AF: screening, prognosis and diagnosis, management, and the health-related outcomes. METHODS: A standard scoping review framework was used by an interdisciplinary study team of nurse- and physician-delirium researchers, an information specialist, and review methodologists to conduct the review. Knowledge user engagement provided context in refining 19 AF questions. A peer-reviewed search strategy identified citations in Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, and CINAHL databases between 1980 and 2018. Two reviewers independently screened records for inclusion using explicit study eligibility criteria for the population, design, delirium diagnosis, and investigational intent. RESULTS: Of 104 studies reporting empirical data and meeting eligibility criteria, most were conducted in patients with cancer (73.1%) and in inpatient PC units (52%). The most frequent study design was a one or more group, nonrandomized trial or cohort (67.3%). Evidence gaps were identified: delirium risk prediction; comparative effectiveness and harms of prevention, variability in delirium management across PC settings, advanced directive and substitute decision-maker input, and transition of care location; and estimating delirium reversibility. Future rigorous primary studies are required to address these gaps and preliminary concerns regarding the quality of extant literature. CONCLUSION: Substantial evidence gaps exist, providing opportunities for future research regarding the assessment, prognosis, and management of delirium in PC settings.


  • Lawlor, Peter G
  • Rutkowski, Nicole A
  • MacDonald, Alistair R
  • Ansari, Mohammed T
  • Sikora, Lindsey
  • Momoli, Franco
  • Kanji, Salmaan
  • Wright, David K
  • Rosenberg, Erin
  • Hosie, Annmarie
  • Pereira, Jose
  • Meagher, David
  • Rice, Jill
  • Scott, John
  • Bush, Shirley H

publication date

  • March 2019