Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mary Jo Grap


BACKGROUND: Agitation is a common complication in the intensive care unit (ICU) manifested in behavior and actions that range from simple apprehension or anxiety to frankly combative behavior.5 Agitation is associated with significant adverse outcomes.1-3 Studies report up to 71% of ICU patients have some degree of agitation during their ICU stay and that agitation is observed 32% of the time.3;4 Potential causes of agitation in critically ill patients are numerous; however, data about factors that predict agitation are limited. OBJECTIVE: The specific aim of this study was to identify predictors of agitation on admission to the ICU as well as within 24 hours prior to the first agitation event. DESIGN: Retrospective medical record review. SETTING: Two adult critical care units, Medical Respiratory ICU (MRICU) and Surgical Trauma ICU (STICU) in an urban university medical center. SUBJECTS: A convenience sample of 200 critically ill adult patients, all older than 18 years of age, consecutively admitted to a MRICU and STICU, admitted for longer than 24 hours, over a two month period. METHODS: Risk factors for agitation were identified from literature review as well as from expert consultation. Data were collected during the first 5 days of ICU stay. Agitation was identified using the documented Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale or notation of “agitation” in the medical record. RESULTS: Of the sample 56.5% were male, 51.5% Euro-American, with mean age 55.5 years (±16.4). Independent predictors of agitation on admission to the ICU were: past medical history of illicit substance use, height, both the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment respiratory and central nervous system subscores, and use of restraints. Predictors of agitation within 24 hours prior to the first agitation event were: percent of hours using restraints, percent of hours using mechanical ventilation, number of genitourinary catheters, and blood pH and albumin. CONCLUSIONS: Use of these empirically based data may allow care providers to identify those at risk as well as predict agitation. Elimination or reduction of agitation in the ICU would improve patient safety and reduce hospitalization resulting in significant savings to healthcare. Reference List (1) Woods JC, Mion LC, Connor JT et al. Severe agitation among ventilated medical intensive care unit patients: frequency, characteristics and outcomes. Intensive Care Med 2004;30:1066-1072. (2) Jaber S, Chanques G, Altairac C et al. A prospective study of agitation in a medical-surgical ICU: incidence, risk factors, and outcomes. Chest 2005;128:2749-2757. (3) Fraser GL, Prato BS, Riker RR, Berthiaume D, Wilkins ML. Frequency, severity, and treatment of agitation in young versus elderly patients in the ICU. Pharmacotherapy 2000;20:75-82. (4) Gardner K, Sessler CN, Grap MJ. Clinical factors associated with agitation. Am J Crit Care 2006;15:330-331. (5) Riker RR, Picard JT, Fraser GL. Prospective evaluation of the Sedation-Agitation Scale for adult critically ill patients. Crit Care Med 1999;27:1325-1329.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013

Included in

Nursing Commons