University of South Florida

USF Nursing receives $1.9 million grant from NIH to study delirium intervention in intensive care unit 

Dr. Cindy Munro will be among the first researchers in the United States to study an audio-recording system to reduce delirium in ICU patients.

Tampa, FL (Dec. 19, 2016) – The National Institutes of Nursing Research (NINR) has awarded more than $1.9 million to the University of South Florida College of Nursing to study an audio-recording reorientation intervention to prevent delirium in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Cindy Munro, PhD, professor and associate dean of research and innovation at USF College of Nursing, will lead a team of USF Health researchers to study whether the intervention, called Family Automated Voice Reorientation (FAVoR), can help minimize delirium among patients receiving treatment in ICUs.

FAVoR uses scripted audio messages from the patient’s family, and is played to the patient in the ICU every hour during daytime. The audio recording helps inform the patient about the ICU environment in general terms –in a familiar voice. The recording calls the patients by name and explains what’s happening — telling them, “you’re not able to talk, because you are in a breathing tube,” “you’re in the hospital,” and “we will visit you soon.” 

Cindy Munro, PhD

Dr. Munro and her team will study 178 critically ill and mechanically ventilated adult patients hospitalized at Tampa General Hospital. The researchers will also follow the patients’ progress for six months after they leave the hospital.

“People with delirium have a lot more trouble with recovery,” Dr. Munro said. “Their memory and their long-term quality of life is affected even after they’re discharged from the hospital. So, by doing this alteration to the environment, we’re hoping to help reduce delirium in the ICU, and improve patients’ lives when they go home.”

According to the ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group, 50 percent of critically ill and 80 percent of mechanically ventilated adult patients suffer from delirium. Delirium is a serious disorder that affects one’s mental abilities, environment awareness and thinking, and causes behavioral changes and emotional disturbances.

During this four-year study, Dr. Munro will work with USF College of Nursing’s Ming Ji, PhD, professor, and Zhan Liang, MSN, assistant professor. She will also collaborate with two physicians from USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine: Karel Calero, MD, assistant professor, and W. Mcdowell Anderson, MD, professor and director of Sleep Medicine.  

“We’re happy to be the one of the first institutions in the nation to study delirium in the ICU,” said Donna Petersen, ScD, CPH, interim dean of the USF College of Nursing, senior associate vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF College of Public Health. “This research will help tackle an untapped health care issue such as delirium as well as help advance our college research mission.”      

The study is supported by NINR, part of National Institute of Health (NIH). NINR helps promote and improve the health of individuals, families and communities. NINR is part of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers that support and conduct clinical and basic science research on health and illness. For more information about NIH and NINR visit


-USF Health-

USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs, and the USF Physicians Group. USF Health is an integral part of the University of South Florida, a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. For more information, visit


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