Mortality Associated With Mental Disorders and Comorbid General Medical Conditions

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Importance: Premature mortality has been observed among people with mental disorders. Comorbid general medical conditions contribute substantially to this reduction in life expectancy.

Objective: To provide an analysis of mortality associated with comorbidity between a broad range of mental disorders and general medical conditions.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Population-based cohort study of 5 946 800 individuals born in Denmark from 1900 to 2015 and residing in the country at the start of follow-up (January 1, 2000, or their date of birth, whichever occurred later).

Exposures: Danish health registers were used to identify people with mental disorders and general medical conditions.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Considering pairs of mental disorders and general medical conditions, we calculated mortality rate ratios (MRRs) and differences in life expectancy (ie, life-years lost) to assess the association of mortality with both disorders of interest compared with the mental disorder of interest, the general medical condition of interest, and neither disorder of interest.

Results: The study population comprised 2 961 397 males and 2 985 403 females, with a median (IQR) age of 32.0 years (7.3-52.9) at start of follow-up and 48.9 years (42.5-68.8) at the end. Based on all pairs of comorbid mental disorders and general medical conditions, the mean MRR compared with people without these conditions was 5.90 (median, 4.94; IQR, 3.80-7.30), and the mean reduction of life expectancy compared with the general population was 11.35 years (median, 11.08; range, 5.27-23.53; IQR, 8.22-13.72). The association with general medical condition comorbidity in those with mental disorders varied by general medical condition; for example, the addition of a neurological condition for each of the mental disorders was associated with a mean MRR of 1.22, whereas for cancer, the mean MRR for all mental disorders was 4.07.

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, shorter life expectancy was associated with comorbid mental disorders and general medical conditions compared with the entire population and also when compared with patients who had either mental disorders only or general medical conditions only. Prevention and early detection of comorbidities could reduce premature mortality in patients with mental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
Pages (from-to)444-453
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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