Review of the evidence: prevalence of medical conditions in the United States population with serious mental illness

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. May-Jun 2015;37(3):199-222. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.03.004. Epub 2015 Mar 14.


Objective: Persons with serious mental illness (SMI) have high rates of premature mortality from preventable medical conditions, but this group is underrepresented in epidemiologic surveys and we lack national estimates of the prevalence of conditions such as obesity and diabetes in this group. We performed a comprehensive review to synthesize estimates of the prevalence of 15 medical conditions among the population with SMI.

Method: We reviewed studies published in the peer-reviewed literature from January 2000 to August 2012. Studies were included if they assessed prevalence in a sample of 100 or more United States (US) adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Results: A total of 57 studies were included in the review. For most medical conditions, the prevalence estimates varied considerably. For example, estimates of obesity prevalence ranged from 26% to 55%. This variation appeared to be due to differences in measurement (e.g., self-report versus clinical measures) and underlying differences in study populations. Few studies assessed prevalence in representative, community samples of persons with SMI.

Conclusions: In many studies, the prevalence of medical conditions among the population with SMI was higher than among the overall US population. Screening for and monitoring of these conditions should be common practice in clinical settings serving persons with SMI.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Medical co-morbidity; Prevalence; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology