Associations between symptoms and all-cause mortality in individuals with serious mental illness

J Psychosom Res. 2012 Feb;72(2):114-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.09.012. Epub 2011 Nov 20.


Objective: To determine if aggression, hallucinations or delusions, and depression contribute to excess mortality risk observed in individuals with serious mental illness (SMI).

Methods: We identified SMI cases (schizophrenia, schizoaffective and bipolar disorder) aged≥15years in a large secondary mental healthcare case register linked to national mortality tracing. We modelled the effect of specific symptoms (HoNOS subscales) on all-cause mortality using Cox regression.

Results: We identified 6880 SMI cases (242 deaths) occurring 2007-2010. Bipolar disorder was associated with reduced mortality risk compared to schizophrenia (HR 0.7; 95% CI 0.4-0.96; p=0.028). Mortality was not significantly associated with hallucinations and delusions or overactive-aggressive behaviour, but was associated with physical illness/disability. There was a positive association between mortality and subclinical depression among individuals with schizophrenia (HR 1.5; 1.1-2.2; p=0.019) but a negative association with subclinical and more severe depression among those with schizoaffective disorder (HR 0.1; 0.02-0.4; p=0.001 and 0.3; 0.1-0.8; p=0.021, respectively).

Conclusions: The recognised increased risk of mortality in SMI did not appear to be influenced by severity of hallucinations, delusions, or overactive-aggressive behaviour. Physical illness and lifestyle may need to be addressed and the relationship between depression and mortality requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / mortality*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Delusions / mortality*
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Depression / mortality*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / mortality*
  • Hallucinations / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / mortality*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index