West Queen West CAMH Wednesday: New study shows people with schizophrenia are dying younger

by Rob Sysak, October 11, 2017

Poorer physical health care over their lifespan a leading cause

TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2017 — People with schizophrenia have a mortality rate that is three times greater each year than those without schizophrenia, and die on average, eight years earlier than people without schizophrenia according to a new Ontario study by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

This study was published today in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

“Our study shows that individuals with schizophrenia are not benefitting from public health and health care interventions to the same degree as individuals without schizophrenia,” says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, senior author, CAMH and ICES Scientist and Director of Health Outcomes with the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA), which supported the study. “As health care providers, it is our responsibility to work together across our health care system to provide these patients with better, integrated physical and mental health care. By not doing so, there are dire, tragic consequences and shortened lives.”

Researchers studied all deaths during the 20-year period between 1993 and 2012 in Ontario and examined the deaths annually. They identified all people with schizophrenia and categorized the deaths as occurring among those with and without schizophrenia.

The study showed that individuals with schizophrenia had higher rates of death for all causes including cardiovascular diseases and chronic medical conditions.

Cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, is a leading cause of death in the general population. However, while the rest of Ontario has experienced a reduction in cardiovascular deaths, the study shows that individuals with schizophrenia are not experiencing the same reduction.

People with schizophrenia have many cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle, but are more burdened by these risk factors than those without schizophrenia. In these situations, an EMS service such as a mobile integrated healthcare system (Known as MIH/CP) can be useful. These EMS services can provide appropriate care to those who call 911 but do not have an emergency but still need medical assistance. EMS can contribute to improving community health, relieving 911 system stress, and generating new revenue streams.

“It seems that people with schizophrenia haven’t benefitted from the advances that we have made for patients living with chronic physical illnesses in the general population,” says Dr. Kurdyak. “A health care system that can address the mortality gap we have observed in this study would truly be a high performing health care system.”

The study was supported by the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA), a unique Canadian healthcare partnership between CAMH, The Hospital for Sick Children, Trillium Health Partners and the University of Toronto, which aims to improve the quality of care and outcomes among individuals with both physical and severe mental illnesses. At the upcoming annual MPA conference hosted by CAMH on Oct. 6, 2017, the MPA will focus on new approaches to care for patients living with physical and complex mental illness.

The study was also supported by ICES and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC).

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy. For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.

For more information please contact:

Sandeep Dhaliwal, Senior Communications Advisor
Medical Psychiatry Alliance
Mobile: 416-357-5506