Use of the confusion assessment method in multicentre delirium trials: Training and standardisation

John R. Green, Jane Smith, Elizabeth Teale, Michelle Collinson, Michael S. Avidan, Eva M. Schmitt, Sharon K. Inouye, John Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Delirium occurs commonly in older adults and is associated with adverse outcomes. Multicentre clinical trials evaluating interventions to prevent delirium are needed. The Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) is a validated instrument for delirium detection. We hypothesised it would be possible for a large feasibility study to train a large number of research assistants, with varying experience levels, to conduct CAM assessments reliably in multiple hospital sites. Methods: A standardised training programme was followed, incorporating structured training at a central location and at study sites. CAM practice sessions on both delirious and non-delirious patients by research assistants were conducted and, thereafter, there was ongoing inter-rater reliability assessment on the CAM between research assistant pairs at study sites. The setting was eight acute care hospitals in England and Wales. Participants were research assistants working on a multicentre feasibility study of delirium prevention. The measurement used was the Confusion Assessment Method. Results: Thirty-seven research assistants were trained in CAM assessment and 33 returned training logs. The logs showed there was 100% overall agreement between research assistant pairs on 295 CAM assessments, of which 263 (89.2%) were negative for delirium and 32 (10.8%) were positive. In the course of the feasibility study, research assistants successfully completed 5065 (89.7%) of the 5645 expected CAM assessments, with minimal missing data. Conclusion: Using the training methods described in this study, it is possible to achieve high quality delirium assessments for large numbers of patients with little missing data across geographically dispersed sites in multicentre studies. The standardisation of multisite delirium assessments is an important contribution to research methodology, and provides a much-needed advance for the field. Trial registration: ISRCT ISRCTN01187372. Registered 13 March 2014.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019


  • Confusion assessment method
  • Delirium
  • Multicentre studies
  • Training


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