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image Educating Family Caregivers for Older Adults About Delirium: A Systematic Review

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ABSTRACT

Background

Delirium in older adults is considered a medical emergency; it contributes to a cascade of functional decline and to increased mortality. Early recognition of delirium symptoms is critical to prevent these negative consequences. Family caregivers who are educated about delirium could partner with nurses and other healthcare professionals in early recognition of delirium symptoms. Before implementing such partnership models, it is important to examine the effectiveness of educating family caregivers about delirium.

Aims

To examine whether providing education on delirium to family caregivers improved their knowledge, emotional state, or response in reducing the incidence of delirium in older adults.

Methods

For this systematic review, we conducted literature searches in CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Social Sciences in ProQuest, Dissertations and Theses, and the Virginia Henderson Global Nursing eRepository for studies published in the English language between January 2000 and June 2015. Criteria for inclusion were: (a) primary focus on educating family caregivers for older adults about delirium; (b) use of experimental, quasi-experimental, or comparative design; (c) measured family caregiver outcomes of delirium knowledge, emotional state, or response in reducing delirium incidence in older adults; and (d) published in the English language. Articles were appraised using Melnyk's rapid critical appraisal guides.

Results

Seven studies met the review criteria. Four studies found that family caregivers’ delirium knowledge increased; two noted that delirium incidence in older adults declined; and one study reported less distress following receipt of education.

Linking Evidence to Action

Providing family caregivers with information about delirium can be beneficial for both family caregivers and older adults. However, rigorous evaluation of education programs for family caregivers about delirium is needed.

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