Aims: People with serious mental illness (SMI) are more likely to develop chronic health conditions and die prematurely. Timely identification of modifiable health risk factors may enable early intervention. We aimed to describe the physical health characteristics and service utilization of young people with SMI.
Methods: Young people with SMI enrolled in an integrated community mental health clinic (CMHC) and primary care program were assessed for physical and mental health history and past year service utilization.
Results: A total of 122 participants, ages 16-35 (m = 27.0 ± 5.0 years), half male, 78.3% White were assessed. Half smoked cigarettes, half had obesity, almost half (47.5%, n = 56) had hypertension, and about a third had laboratory metabolic abnormalities. The group averaged 10.7 ± 5.1 h of sedentary behavior per day. Obesity was associated with high blood pressure, prediabetes, poor self-rated health abilities, sedentary behavior and low health satisfaction. Over half had been to the emergency department (ED) for a medical reason (55.0%, n = 66) and 24.6% had been hospitalized for a health condition in the past year. Over half had a lifetime cardiovascular risk score indicating a 50-67% chance of having a cardiovascular event; simply quitting smoking would reduce the number with this risk by almost half. Most physical health diagnoses were not recorded in the CMHC record.
Conclusion: Young people with SMI newly enrolled in integrated care had high rates of smoking, obesity, hypertension, and other cardio-metabolic abnormalities contributing to high risk for future disease. Research is needed to examine appealing, scalable interventions to improve health, reduce unnecessary medical care, and prevent disparate chronic disease in this group.
Keywords: hypertension; obesity; schizophrenia; serious mental illness; smoking.
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.