Dying Young

“Persons with schizophrenia have an exceptionally short life expectancy.”

Laursen TM et al

Persons with schizophrenia die much too young! In their 2014 review Excess early mortality in schizophrenia Lausen et al note that:

“High mortality is found in all age groups, resulting in a life expectancy of approximately 20 years below that of the general population.” 

In a 2012 article Life expectancy and cardiovascular mortality in persons with schizophrenia Lausen and co-authors wrote how

“Patients with schizophrenia have two-fold to three-fold higher mortality rates compared with the general population, corresponding to a 10-25-year reduction in life expectancy.”

Last month a paper was published in JAMA Psychiatry that looked at premature mortality with schizophrenia in the U.S. The authors dug deep, looking at more than 1.1 million persons with schizophrenia between 2001-2007 with 74,000 deaths of which 65,500 had known cause. They found that:

“Adults with schizophrenia were more than 3.5 times as likely to die in the follow-up period as were adults in the general population.” They go on to note that “Cardiovascular deaths has the highest mortality rate” and that “Accidental deaths accounted for more than twice as many deaths as suicide.”

During my time working in ACT our team had clients die from unintentional drug overdoses, cardiac arrests, an apartment fire and cancers. I doubt this is different from what other teams experience.

I wish I could give you hard data for mortality rates for our clients but I don’t have it.  In my search for reports on mortality in ACT clients I’ve come up with nothing.

We know  ACT decreases hospitalizations, increases client and family satisfaction, improves housing stability and has other outcomes.  We should know if ACT improves longevity at least relative to individuals not receiving ACT services.  There is reason to think it might; ACT has nurses and a team that helps clients connect with and follow up on medical concerns around diabetes and heart disease.

I look forward to there being an ACT conference in the not too distant future.  Perhaps that would be a setting where teams could share and compare their data.  Maybe teams could submit their anonymized data and someone with the requisite number of crunching skills might present it.

We should know more.

I hope you’ll consider reading Measuring Up, a previous blog on the importance of gathering and using data.

Shalom Coodin


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