April 11, 2017
3 min read

Mortality rate higher among young adults with first-episode psychosis

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Recent findings indicated significantly higher mortality rates among young adults with first-episode psychosis but low rates of antipsychotic treatment and psychotherapy.

“These findings show the importance of tracking mortality in individuals with mental illness,” Michael Schoenbaum, PhD, of the NIMH’s Division of Services and Intervention Research, said in a press release. “Health systems do this in other areas of medicine, such as cancer and cardiology, but not for mental illness. Of course, we also need to learn how these young people are losing their lives.”

To assess 12-month mortality and patterns of outpatient and inpatient treatment among individuals who experienced an incident episode of psychosis, researchers conducted a prospective observational analysis of data from the HHS Multi-Payer Claims Database Pilot for all commercially insured individuals aged 16 to 30 years diagnosed with psychosis between 2008 and 2009.

Past-year mortality after psychosis diagnosis ranged from 1,968 per 100,000 to 7,372 per 100,000. These estimates were 24 to 89 times greater than those in the general U.S. population aged 16 to 30 years.

In the year after diagnosis, 61% of participants did not fill an antipsychotic prescription and 41% did not receive psychotherapy.

Sixty-two percent of the cohort experienced at least one hospitalization and/or ED visit during the first year of care.

“The future of this research will show us what is happening with young people in this population, and help us tailor interventions to address their risks,” Schoenbaum said in the release. “In the meantime, this study is a wake-up call telling us that young people experiencing psychosis need intensive, integrated clinical and psychosocial supports.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.