Incidence of postoperative delirium in older adults undergoing surgical procedures: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Ezinne Oyidia Igwe, Jessica Nealon, Pauline O'Shaughnessy, Alera Bowden, Hui Chen Chang, Mu Hsing Ho, Jed Montayre, Amy Montgomery, Kaye Rolls, Kuei Ru Chou, Kee Hsin Chen, Victoria Traynor, Peter Smerdely

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: With the increase in life expectancy around the globe, the incidence of postoperative delirium (POD) among older people (≥65 years) is growing. Previous studies showed a wide variation in the incidence of POD, from 4% to 53%, with a lack of specific evidence about the incidence of POD by specific surgery type among older people. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the incidence of POD by surgery type within populations 65 years and over. Methods: Databases including PubMed, Cochrane library, Embase, and CINAHL were searched until October 2020. Due to the relatively higher number of meta-analyses undertaken in this area of research, a streamlined systematic meta-analysis was proposed. Results: A total of 28 meta-analyses (comprising 284 individual studies) were reviewed. Data from relevant individual studies (n = 90) were extracted and included in the current study. Studies were grouped into eight surgery types and the incidence of POD for orthopedic, vascular, spinal, cardiac, colorectal, abdominal, urologic, and mixed surgeries was 20%, 14%, 13%, 32%, 14%, 30%, 10%, and 26%, respectively. POD detection instruments were different across the studies, with Confusion Assessment Method (CAM & CAM-ICU) being the most frequently adopted. Linking Evidence to Action: This study showed that POD incidence in older people undergoing surgery varied widely across surgery type. The more complex surgeries like cardiac and abdominal surgeries were associated with a higher risk of POD. This highlights the need to include the level of surgery complexity as a risk factor in preoperative assessments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWorldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • incidence
  • meta-analysis
  • older people
  • postoperative delirium
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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