Relationship between Etiology and Phenomenologic Profile in Delirium

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This study describes the symptom profile of 46 patients with delirium seen as consecutive referrals to a consultation-liaison psychiatry service. The relationship between symptoms rated on the Delirium Rating Scale (DRS) and delirium subtypes defined according to three putative etiologic groups are described. The relationship between etiologic groups and motoric subtype of the delirium episode is also described. Drug-related cases had the highest total DRS score and higher scores than the anticholinergic group for perceptual changes, delusions, psychomotor disturbance, and mood lability. Drug-related cases had higher scores than both the anticholinergic and infectious/electrolyte group for changes in sleep-wake cycle and fluctuation of symptoms. Those from the anticholinergic etiologic group were more likely to fit the hypoactive motoric subtype. Although our findings are tentative, etiologic categories may present with different symptom profiles, which may be associated with differing treatment responsiveness and course.

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