Background: In papers published by nurses, there is no consensus on the most appropriate concept to describe the clinical condition known as delirium, but also as acute confusion. Objective: To determine the coherence in use of the concepts of delirium and acute confusion by nurses. Data sources: The bibliographic search covered the international literature published between 2000 and 2010. The sample was composed of 7 free access articles. Discussion: The results highlight a lack of rigor in the use of concepts, lack of knowledge of the characteristics of delirium and the preferential use of ‘confusion’ by nurses, and difficulties in research because of theoretical differences between investigators and care providers. Implications for nursing: We suggest that research should focus on defining the concept that best defines the problem, clarifying the differences and characteristics and the clinical utility of concept(s) for nurses; this information should be incorporated in the training of nurses; measuring instruments should be used in clinical practice; and a common language should be disseminated among nurses. Conclusion: The importance of this field is undeniable if the care provided is to meet the aims of quality and excellence.
- Nursing care