APA House Call: Understanding Mentally Ill Mortality

April 26, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

How do comorbidities influence patients' life expectancies? What is the role of public health programs?

Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, PhD

The 2020 American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting was cancelled this year, with plans made to convert the world-leading psychiatry conference into a two-part virtual session and educational platform for attendees.

In lieu of regular on-site coverage, HCPLive® will be running a series of interviews, insights, and reporting on topics that frequently headline the APA meeting—featuring familiar experts.

New results from a Denmark-based population cohort assessment shows patients diagnosed with a mental disorder have had a slight increase in overall life expectancy from 1995-2015, as the rate of external causes of death—suicide, unintentional deaths—decreased in the population.

However, the findings also showed the same patients had a greater rate of natural deaths over time, meaning health-related issues have been playing a more significant role into what is now an approximate seven-year difference of life expectancy between someone with, and someone without, a mental illness.

In an interview with HCPLive®, research letter author by Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, PhD, of the National Center for Register-Based Research at Aarhus University, discussed the prevalence of comorbid conditions in patients with common mental disorders including depression. He also talked about the limitations of the register-based assessment, but the nonetheless evidenced trends of decades-long improvement that alludes to improved public health outreach for suicide and other health risk factors among patients with mental illnesses.

Plana-Ripoll also discussed the strain of common compounding factors in mental illness severity—from stigma to substance abuse—and how such issues could not be weighed in this cohort.