(HealthDay News) – Since 1995, the gap in life expectancy for those with mental illness has increased vs. the general population, according to a study published online May 21 in BMJ.
David Lawrence, PhD, from the University of Western Australia in Perth, and colleagues conducted a population-based study to examine the mortality experience of psychiatric patients using data from 1985–2005 for 292,585 psychiatric patients registered with mental health services in Western Australia.
The researchers found that when looking at patients who had contact with mental health services in the previous five years, the gap in life expectancy increased from 13.5–15.9 years for males and from 10.4–12 years for females during the study period. Of the excess deaths, 77.7% were due to physical health conditions, including 29.9% to cardiovascular disease and 13.5% to cancer. Suicide accounted for 13.9% of excess deaths.
“Despite knowledge about excess mortality in people with mental illness, the gap in their life expectancy compared with the general population has widened since 1985,” the authors write. “With most excess deaths being due to physical health conditions, public efforts should be directed towards improving physical health to reduce mortality in people with mental illness, in addition to ongoing efforts to prevent suicide.”