Delirium cancer guidelines


Funded by the University of York


Non-pharmacological interventions which target the risk factors for delirium have been recommended for preventing and managing the condition in various clinical practice guidelines, including guidance for the care of inpatients in hospitals,(NICE) care home residents (NICE) and patients in hospices and other palliative care settings (Canadian guidelines).

These are largely based on expert consensus, although there is moderate quality trial evidence that multi-component non-pharmacological interventions are effective in preventing delirium in hospital in-patients, reducing the incidence by around one-third(Cochrane). Delirium is common in cancer patients; this is both because the underlying condition and its complications predispose to delirium, and because many of the treatments used in the management of cancer, also increase the risk of delirium. However, to our knowledge, currently there are no evidence based guidelines specifically guiding clinical practice in the prevention and management of delirium in patients with cancer.

Review of the evidence

Clinical questions?

What are the most effective and cost effective non-pharmacological (single and multi-component) interventions for the prevention of delirium in adults with cancer (AWC)?

What are the most effective non-pharmacological interventions (single and multi-component) for treating delirium in AWC?