A smartphone-based test for the assessment of attention deficits in delirium: A case-control diagnostic test accuracy study in older hospitalised patients.

Change log
Stott, David J 
Shaw, Robert 
Tang, Elaine 
Rutter, Lisa-Marie 

BACKGROUND: Delirium is a common and serious acute neuropsychiatric syndrome which is often missed in routine clinical care. Inattention is the core cognitive feature. Diagnostic test accuracy (including cut-points) of a smartphone Delirium App (DelApp) for assessing attention deficits was assessed in older hospital inpatients. METHODS: This was a case-control study of hospitalised patients aged ≥65 years with delirium (with or without pre-existing cognitive impairment), who were compared to patients with dementia without delirium, and patients without cognitive impairment. Reference standard delirium assessment, which included a neuropsychological test battery, was based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 criteria. A separate blinded assessor administered the DelApp arousal assessment (score 0-4) and attention task (0-6) yielding an overall score of 0 to 10 (lower scores indicate poorer performance). Analyses included receiver operating characteristic curves and sensitivity and specificity. Optimal cut-points for delirium detection were determined using Youden's index. RESULTS: A total of 187 patients were recruited, mean age 83.8 (range 67-98) years, 152 (81%) women; n = 61 with delirium; n = 61 with dementia without delirium; and n = 65 without cognitive impairment. Patients with delirium performed poorly on the DelApp (median score = 4/10; inter-quartile range 3.0, 5.5) compared to patients with dementia (9.0; 5.5, 10.0) and those without cognitive impairment (10.0; 10.0, 10.0). Area under the curve for detecting delirium was 0.89 (95% Confidence Interval 0.84, 0.94). At an optimal cut-point of ≤8, sensitivity was 91.7% (84.7%, 98.7%) and specificity 74.2% (66.5%, 81.9%) for discriminating delirium from the other groups. Specificity was 68.3% (56.6%, 80.1%) for discriminating delirium from dementia (cut-point ≤6). CONCLUSION: Patients with delirium (with or without pre-existing cognitive impairment) perform poorly on the DelApp compared to patients with dementia and those without cognitive impairment. A cut-point of ≤8/10 is suggested as having optimal sensitivity and specificity. The DelApp is a promising tool for assessment of attention deficits associated with delirium in older hospitalised adults, many of whom have prior cognitive impairment, and should be further validated in representative patient cohorts.

Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Area Under Curve, Case-Control Studies, Cognitive Dysfunction, Delirium, Dementia, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Mobile Applications, Neuropsychological Tests, ROC Curve, Sensitivity and Specificity, Severity of Illness Index, Smartphone
Journal Title
PLoS One
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Public Library of Science (PLoS)