Context: Prospective studies are needed to adequately describe the overall impact of neuropsychiatric syndromes on the course of hospice enrollment in outpatient settings. Objectives: To determine the prevalence and natural history of delirium, cognitive impairment, alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation (SI) in community-dwelling veteran hospice patients. Methods: Home hospice patients were visited regularly from enrollment until their deaths, study withdrawal, or discharge from hospice. Family caregivers gave consent for those with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores less than or equal to 23. Measures included the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV for depression (past and current) and alcohol abuse; the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; MMSE; and Confusion Assessment Method (CAM). A clinician-rated CAM item documented sleep disturbance, and participants were asked about SI at each visit. Results: The median length of hospice enrollment was 81 days. Of 88 participants, 77 (88%) experienced at least one neuropsychiatric syndrome. Cognitive impairment was prevalent, with 60 (68%) registering MMSE less than or equal to 23 at least once. More than half of the participants developed delirium; the proportion with delirium, any cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, or any neuropsychiatric syndrome increased significantly from first to last study visit. Twelve (14%) participants had SI during the study, and 30 (34%) participants were affected by depression overall. Sixteen patients who were not depressed on admission subsequently developed depression. Anxiety was present in 14 (16%) on at least one study visit. Active alcohol abuse remained relatively stable (8%) across visits. Conclusions: Psychiatric syndromes are highly prevalent in hospice patients. Systematic case finding of psychiatric disorders may be necessary to improve quality of life in the last months of life.
- alcohol abuse
- mental disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine