The confusion assessment method for the ICU-7 delirium severity scale: A novel delirium severity instrument for use in the ICU

Babar A. Khan, Anthony J. Perkins, Sujuan Gao, Siu L. Hui, Noll L. Campbell, Mark O. Farber, Linda Chlan, Malaz A. Boustani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Objectives: Delirium severity is independently associated with longer hospital stays, nursing home placement, and death in patients outside the ICU. Delirium severity in the ICU is not routinely measured because the available instruments are difficult to complete in critically ill patients. We designed our study to assess the reliability and validity of a new ICU delirium severity tool, the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU-7 delirium severity scale. Design: Observational cohort study. Setting: Medical, surgical, and progressive ICUs of three academic hospitals. Patients: Five hundred eighteen adult (≥ 18 yr) patients. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Patients received the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU, Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale, and Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-98 assessments. A 7-point scale (0-7) was derived from responses to the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU and Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale items. Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU-7 showed high internal consistency (Cronbach's α = 0.85) and good correlation with Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-98 scores (correlation coefficient = 0.64). Known-groups validity was supported by the separation of mechanically ventilated and nonventilated assessments. Median Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU-7 scores demonstrated good predictive validity with higher odds (odds ratio = 1.47; 95% CI = 1.30-1.66) of in-hospital mortality and lower odds (odds ratio = 0.8; 95% CI = 0.72-0.9) of being discharged home after adjusting for age, race, gender, severity of illness, and chronic comorbidities. Higher Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU-7 scores were also associated with increased length of ICU stay (p = 0.001). Conclusions: Our results suggest that Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU-7 is a valid and reliable delirium severity measure among ICU patients. Further research comparing it to other delirium severity measures, its use in delirium efficacy trials, and real-life implementation is needed to determine its role in research and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-857
Number of pages7
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017



  • Confusion assessment method-intensive care unit
  • Delirium
  • Intensive care unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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