A Machine Learning Approach for Investigating Delirium as a Multifactorial Syndrome

Ocagli H., Bottigliengo D., Lorenzoni G., Azzolina D., Acar A. S. , Sorgato S., ...More

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH, vol.18, no.13, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 13
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/ijerph18137105


Delirium is a psycho-organic syndrome common in hospitalized patients, especially the elderly, and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. This study aims to identify the predictors that are mostly associated with the risk of delirium episodes using a machine learning technique (MLT). A random forest (RF) algorithm was used to evaluate the association between the subject's characteristics and the 4AT (the 4 A's test) score screening tool for delirium. RF algorithm was implemented using information based on demographic characteristics, comorbidities, drugs and procedures. Of the 78 patients enrolled in the study, 49 (63%) were at risk for delirium, 32 (41%) had at least one episode of delirium during the hospitalization (38% in orthopedics and 31% both in internal medicine and in the geriatric ward). The model explained 75.8% of the variability of the 4AT score with a root mean squared error of 3.29. Higher age, the presence of dementia, physical restraint, diabetes and a lower degree are the variables associated with an increase of the 4AT score. Random forest is a valid method for investigating the patients' characteristics associated with delirium onset also in small case-series. The use of this model may allow for early detection of delirium onset to plan the proper adjustment in healthcare assistance.