Delirium is a medical term used to describe a change in brain function which makes a person become suddenly confused. Their behaviour and concentration may also be affected. It can make people feel frightened, restless and suspicious. The symptoms can come on quickly and change from hour to hour. It is very common, particularly among people with dementia, older people and those in hospital. People who have delirium while they are in hospital often stay longer in hospital.

Delirium usually gets better within a few days to weeks but it can sometimes take several months for people to recover fully. Importantly, there is some evidence that delirium may cause permanent damage to the brain. It may make people more likely to develop dementia in the future. For those who already have dementia, delirium may make their dementia get worse.

What are the main aims of the study?

Dr Daniel Davis, the Principle Investigator for this study

Dr Daniel Davis, the Principal Investigator for this study

Previous work on this problem has shown that there are ways that some cases of delirium can be prevented or to alleviate symptoms faster. It is important to understand the effect of delirium on the brain because it may be a cause of dementia that can be reduced or prevented.

Delirium is still an unknown area with little research on the causes or its long-term effects. This study would not only further understanding of the development and nature of Delirium but also its potential effects on cognition and memory.

What does it involve for a participant?

LINKAGE-Camden will be recruiting people over the age of 70 and living in the borough of Camden.

The study aims to recruit a sample of 2000 participants which will be mostly obtained from Camden GP surgeries. Each participants will be contacted by phone in order to complete a telephone assessment at their convenience. The telephone assessment will involve going through a health questionnaire and also ask questions testing different aspects of concentration, memory, language and abstract thinking.

Participants will be followed over a two year period. If a participant is admitted to hospital during this period they will be visited by one of the research team during their admission. The member of the research team will complete a range of assessments, such as testing cognition (memory, concentration, thinking), strength and mobility.

Each participant will receive a final phone assessment two years after they were first recruited into the study.

How long is the study for?

The study began in January 2017 and will run for a total of three years. Participant involvement will be for a two year period.

What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?

The study hopes that by understanding why some people recover well and others less so, researchers may be able to design care to better suit the needs of people in hospital.

An additional objective is the integration of care across community and primary care settings, such as GP practices, hospital and community services.

As a whole, the research data will give a two year snap-shot of the changing health needs of older people. This will provide public health intelligence of direct use to policy makers who want to meet the needs of older people in Camden.

Where is the study based?

The study is funded by University College London and will operate within University College London, The Royal Free, and St Pancras hospital. The study is sponsored through the Wellcome trust and also connected with the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing.

Who can take part?

Participants will need to be:
– A resident of Camden
– Registered with a Camden GP
– Over 70 years in age.

The Study will not be able to include:
– People with severe hearing impairment or difficulties in understanding or conversing with others.
– Unable to speak English sufficiently to complete memory assessment.
– People who are in their terminal phase of life


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