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

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the incidence of delirium and its risk factors in hospitalized children with cancer.

Study design

In 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.

Results

A 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).

Conclusions

In 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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