UL Researchers Launch Study of Delirium in Hospice and Palliative Care

UL Researchers Launch Study of Delirium in Hospice and Palliative Care

UL researchers have been awarded €175,000 by Ireland’s Health Research Board (HRB) and the All Ireland Institute of Hospice & Palliative Care (AIIHPC).
Left to right – Dr Sonja McIlfatrick (University of Ulster and Director of Reseach, AIIHPC), Dr Karen Ryan (Mater Misericordiae Hospital & St Francis Hospice), Prof David Meagher (University of Limerick), Prof Charles Normand (Trinity College Dublin and Network Lead, AIIHPC).

The study, entitled ‘‘Cognition, mood, cachexia, fatigue and pain management in admissions to palliative care: Towards improved diagnosis and management’ will review and  identify best practices for assessment of cognition in palliative care settings; document the frequency and severity of cognitive difficulties, mood disorder, pain, cachexia and  fatigue in patients; explore the relationship between these various symptom domains; identify features that are most helpful in distinguishing  the presence of mood disorder and delirium (including its different motor variants); and identify a simple user-friendly testing procedure that allows for both applicability and efficiency in accurately identifying cognitive and mood disturbances in everyday clinical practice.

Principal Investigator and Professor of Psychiatry at UL, David Meagher, explains: “The design of this project has been informed by over a decade of research that has involved detailed studies of neuropsychological and phenomenological profile, clinical sub-typing, detection and diagnostics, and the application of bioelectronics to patient assessment. We are now extending this work to palliative care, where routine and systematic assessment of cognitive functioning over time (and specifically the presence of neuropsychiatric conditions such as delirium and dementia) aligned to the assessment of mood (and specifically the presence of depressive states) as well as pain experience and management can facilitate improved diagnostic accuracy and more optimal management of psychological and physical wellbeing of palliative care patients”.
Led by Prof Meagher, who is also Principal Investigator of the Cognitive Impairment Research Group at the Centre for Interventions in Inflammation, Infection & Immunity (4i) (www.4i.ie) hosted by University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School, the study involves significant collaboration with Dr Karen Ryan (Mater Misericordiae Hospital & St Francis Hospice) and forms a part of the wider multidisciplinary Palliative Care Research Network  supported by funding provided by the Irish HRB, Northern Ireland Public Health Agency, Irish Cancer Society and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

The Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (4i), Graduate Entry Medical School, UL brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers focused on developing studies that impact health outcomes.

Director of the Centre, Professor Colum Dunne, who chaired the annual symposium of the Palliative Care Research Network in Dublin in September 2013 complimented Prof Meagher and his team, adding “this study builds on ongoing work, also funded by the HRB, that is developing novel software applications to enable bedside assessment of cognitive impairment. By extending the boundaries of these developments in this new study, Prof Meagher and his colleagues are translating sophisticated technological developments into tangible advances that will allow rapid, effective, standardised and uncomplicated assessment of delirium. This innovation is especially relevant to the hospice and palliative care setting”.