Mortality among people with severe mental disorders who reach old age: a longitudinal study of a community-representative sample of 37892 men

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    46 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background
    Severe mental illnesses are leading causes of disability worldwide. Their prevalence declines with age, possibly due to premature death. It is unclear, however, if people with severe mental disorders who reach older age still have lower life expectancy compared with their peers and if their causes of death differ.

    Methods and Findings
    Cohort study of a community-representative sample of 37892 Australian men aged 65–85 years in 1996–1998. Follow up was censored on the 31st December 2010. Lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia spectrum, bipolar, depressive and alcohol-induced disorder was established through record linkage. A subsample of 12136 consented to a face-to-face assessment of sociodemographic, lifestyle and clinical variables. Information about causes of death was retrieved from the Australian Death Registry. The prevalence of schizophrenia spectrum, bipolar, depressive and alcohol-induced disorders was 1.2%, 0.3%, 2.5% and 1.8%. The mortality hazard for men with a severe mental disorder was 2.3 and their life expectancy was reduced by 3 years. Mortality rates increased with age, but the gap between men with and without severe mental disorders was not attenuated by age. Cardiovascular diseases and cancer were the most frequent causes of death. The excess mortality associated with severe mental disorders could not be explained by measured sociodemographic, lifestyle or clinical variables.

    Conclusions
    The excess mortality associated with severe mental disorders persists in later life, and the causes of death of younger and older people with severe mental disorders are similar. Hazardous lifestyle choices, suboptimal access to health care, poor compliance with treatments, and greater severity of medical comorbidities may all contribute to this increased mortality. Unlike young adults, most older people will visit their primary care physician at least once a year, offering health professionals an opportunity to intervene in order to minimise the harms associated with severe mental disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e111882
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume9
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mortality among people with severe mental disorders who reach old age: a longitudinal study of a community-representative sample of 37892 men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this