APA House Call: Mortality in Mental Disorders

April 25, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

How have natural-cause mortality rates changed over time in an international population?

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.

Results published in a new cohort study showed mortality decreased among the mental disorder patient population of Denmark since 1995. However, similar decreases were observed among those without a mental disorder diagnosis as well, and the mortality rate ratio (MRR) increased from 2.38 in 1995 to 2.60 (95% CI, 2.55-2.65) in 2015.

The research letter, led by Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, PhD, of the National Center for Register-Based Research at Aarhus University, also showed external-cause-of-death MRR decreased during this period—implying the rate of suicides and unintentional deaths among mentally ill patients was dropping. However, natural death MRR increased—alluding to the burden of comorbid conditions on patients with psychiatric diseases.

Overall, the team observed a 1.4-year shortening of the life expectancy gap between those diagnosed with a mental illness and those who were not. What can be interpreted from these findings?

In an interview with HCPLive, Plana-Ripoll explained the basis of the study, the burdens of mentally-ill patients that may put them at greater mortality risk, and the answer to what’s been the most popular question risen from these findings: does this mean mental healthcare is getting better?

His answer, in short: it doesn’t mean that. But it does mean patient tracking is improving.