Accidental deaths and schizophrenia

Background

Increasing focus has been directed towards the long-term survival of psychiatric patients. Some studies have shown that individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis die prematurely compared to the background population.

People with schizophrenia generally have a 15-20 years shorter life expectancy; high mortality is found in all age groups. Evidence suggests that this group may not have seen the same improvements in life expectancy as the background population. Thus, the mortality gap not only persists, but may actually have increased.

Suicide and natural causes of death (somatic disorders) are known to contribute to the excess mortality among persons with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, only few studies have investigated how accidental death may affect the high mortality rates among persons with schizophrenia. A recent Swedish study examined the relationship between mental disorders and the risk of accidental death. The findings suggested that all mental disorders were strong independent risk factors for accidental deaths and substantially more common than suicide.

Objectives

The main objectives of this Research Year project are:

  • To describe the rates of mortality related to accidents as the cause of death among persons with schizophrenia
  • To compare the mortality rates of persons with schizophrenia to the background population.

Perspectives

This project will contribute with more knowledge on the high mortality among persons with schizophrenia. Such knowledge is crucial to ensure that this group of patients is offered better guidance and treatment to obtain a better and longer life.

This project has the potential to form an important part of the investigation of the unacceptably high mortality among persons with schizophrenia