Delirium: The role of the psychologist in assessment and management

Christopher J. Basten*, Brian E. Mcguire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Delirium is a serious and common disorder of cognition, attention, and consciousness. Its presentation is typically varied, ranging from subtle symptoms to the florid and dangerous. Delirium results from a wide range of physical disorders that affect neurological function. Accurate and prompt identification of delirium is essential in order to guide medical and behavioural management decisions, which are required to minimise the serious associated morbidity. This paper argues that psychologists have a potential role in working with individuals suffering delirium, and outlines the skills in cognitive assessment and behaviour management needed for this. Compared with other cognitive disorders such as dementia, little information is available in the psychological literature about delirium. The paper reviews the nature, incidence, and etiology of this syndrome and then offers suggestions for the use of formal assessment tools based on a review of the literature. Finally, strategies for the management of delirium are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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