Delirium in Hospitalized Children with Cancer: Incidence and Associated Risk Factors

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ObjectiveTo assess the incidence of delirium and its risk factors in hospitalized children with cancer.Study designIn this cohort study, all consecutive admissions to a pediatric cancer service over a 3-month period were prospectively screened for delirium twice daily throughout their hospitalization. Demographic and treatment-related data were collected from the medical record after discharge.ResultsA total of 319 consecutive admissions, including 186 patients and 2731 hospital days, were included. Delirium was diagnosed in 35 patients, for an incidence of 18.8%. Risk factors independently associated with the development of delirium included age <5 years (OR = 2.6, P = .026), brain tumor (OR = 4.7, P = .026); postoperative status (OR = 3.3, P = .014), and receipt of benzodiazepines (OR = 3.7,P < .001). Delirium was associated with increased hospital length of stay, with median length of stay for delirious patients of 10 days compared with 5 days for patients who were not delirious during their hospitalization (P < .001).ConclusionsIn this cohort, delirium was a frequent complication during admissions for childhood cancer, and was associated with increased hospital length of stay. Multi-institutional prospective studies are warranted to further characterize delirium in this high-risk population and identify modifiable risk factors to improve the care provided to hospitalized children with cancer.

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