Exploring nurses’ recognition of delirium in the elderly by using Q-methodology

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Despite its high prevalence and seriousness, delirium has been underrecognized by nurses. One reason is that the original characteristics of delirium are relatively unspecific and phenomenologically diverse, which makes a nurse's subjective decision more important in delirium detection. This study aims to identify the experiences, practices, and viewpoints of nurses in recognizing delirium in the elderly.


In this study, Q-methodology, which is a method for analyzing subjectivity, was used. Following the steps of Q-methodology, 32 nurses with experiences in caring for the delirious elderly sorted 34 Q-statements into the shape of a normal distribution. A centroid factor analysis and varimax rotation using the PQMethod program were conducted.


This study revealed four factors regarding nurses toward delirium recognition in the elderly. They were: Factor I, prediction from the integrated signs; Factor II, visible symptom-centered detection; Factor III, the detection of abnormal changes based on concentrated observation; and Factor IV, identification by relying on the diagnostic data.


The result of the study can help to understand elderly delirium detection more practically from a nurse's point of view. It is expected to be used as a basis for a practical and accessible delirium education for nurses that reflects nurses’ subjective viewpoints.

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