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For instance, 71% of individuals with psychosis worldwide do not receive necessary mental health services, with a vast disparity between high-income and low-income countries. Credit: Neuroscience News

Mental Health Tied to Physical Ills

Summary: A comprehensive study discovered a strong correlation between severe mental illnesses and physical multimorbidity.

Analyzing data from almost 200,000 psychiatric patients, the study found these individuals are nearly twice as likely to experience chronic physical conditions compared to those without mental disorders.

This link suggests the need for a holistic approach in treating psychiatric patients, considering the broad spectrum of health challenges they face.

Key Facts:

  1. Individuals with severe mental illnesses are 1.84 times more likely to have physical multimorbidity.
  2. Psychiatric patients commonly report conditions like metabolic and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer.
  3. There’s a significant treatment gap, with 71% of people with psychosis globally not receiving necessary mental health services.

Source: Anglia Ruskin University

The research, led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in collaboration with the University of Cambridge’s Biomedical Research Centre, involved an extensive analysis of 19 different studies, encompassing data from 194,123 psychiatric patients across the world, with a comparison to 7,660,590 individuals in control groups.

Multimorbidity is when a person is affected by any combination of chronic disease with at least one other physical health condition, and the researchers found the psychiatric patients were 1.84 times more likely to report multimorbidity than the control group.

The study found that people with severe mental health issues also report physical conditions including metabolic diseases, hypertension, epilepsy, respiratory, vascular, kidney, and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as cancer.

As of 2019, nearly one billion people were living with a mental disorder, making it a leading cause of disability worldwide. According to Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.

Previous research has found that a large percentage of individuals in need of mental health services lack access to effective, affordable, and quality mental healthcare, especially in low-income countries.

For instance, 71% of individuals with psychosis worldwide do not receive necessary mental health services, with a vast disparity between high-income and low-income countries.

Lead author Lee Smith, Professor of Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “Mental health underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships, and shape the world we live in. It is evident from our research that individuals with severe mental illness are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing physical multimorbidity.

“This complex relationship between severe mental illness and physical multimorbidity has far-reaching implications, including decreased treatment compliance, increased risk of treatment failure, increased treatment costs, relapsing disease, worsening prognosis, and reduced life expectancy.

“Poor clinical management of physical comorbidities in people with mental disorders exacerbates the issue, leading to an increased burden on individuals, their communities, and healthcare systems.

“A holistic approach is urgently needed to improve the physical, mental, and social outcomes of individuals dealing with severe mental illness and physical multimorbidity.”

About this mental health research news

Author: Jamie Forsyth
Source: Anglia Ruskin University
Contact: Jamie Forsyth – Anglia Ruskin University
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
Relationship between severe mental illness and physical multimorbidity: a meta-analysis and call for action” by Lee Smith et al. BMJ Mental Health


Abstract

Relationship between severe mental illness and physical multimorbidity: a meta-analysis and call for action

Background 

People with severe mental illness (SMI) have a higher prevalence of several chronic physical health conditions, and the prevalence of physical multimorbidity is expected to rise. The aim of this study was to assess the strength of the association between SMI and physical multimorbidity.

Study selection and analysis 

We systematically searched PubMed/Medline, Scopus, Embase, Web of Science, PsycINFO and the behavioural sciences collection databases, from inception to 31 January 2023, for studies that investigated the association between SMI and physical multimorbidity. Humans of any age either clinically diagnosed and/or currently receiving treatment for SMI, specified as schizophrenia (and related psychotic disorders), bipolar disorder and psychotic depression, were eligible. Data from studies selected for inclusion were converted into ORs, with a subsequent meta-analysis conducted.

Findings 

We included 19 studies with a total of 194 123 patients with SMI with different diagnoses and drawn from the general population. The pooled OR for physical multimorbidity in people with versus without SMI was 1.84 (95% CI 1.33 to 2.54), with the analysis indicating a high level of heterogeneity (98.38%). The other 15 studies included in the systematic review for which it was not possible to conduct a meta-analysis showed strong associations between SMI and physical multimorbidity.

Conclusions 

The current evidence highlights the link between SMI and physical multimorbidity. A multidisciplinary approach is now urgent to develop the best models of services tailored to patients with SMI with physical multimorbidities to improve physical, mental and social outcomes.

PROSPERO registration number 

CRD42023395165.

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