Cause-specific life years lost among persons diagnosed with schizophrenia: Is it getting better or worse?

Thomas Munk Laursen, Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, Per Kragh Andersen, John J McGrath, Anita Toender, Merete Nordentoft, Vladimir Canudas-Romo, Annette Erlangsen


BACKGROUND: People with schizophrenia have an increased risk of premature mortality compared to the general population. We aimed to quantify which types of causes of death contributed to the excess mortality, and to examine whether there has been an increase in the excess mortality among persons with schizophrenia in the period 1995 to 2015.

METHOD: We used a cohort design including the entire Danish population. We calculated life years lost of the cohort members compared to a set reference-age at 95 years old. Using a decomposition model we examined differences of cause-specific death among those with schizophrenia and the general population, including calendar trends during the last two decades.

RESULTS: In the general population, as well as in persons with schizophrenia, we found improvements in life years lost during the last two decades. Men with schizophrenia lost 13.5 years more than the general population (women; 11.4 years). Compared to the general population, a large improvement in life years lost with respect to suicide and accidents was found in those with schizophrenia, but, this improvement was offset by an increasing number of life years lost in deaths from diseases and medical conditions.

CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the urgent need for focused treatment of general medical conditions in those with schizophrenia. Without such an investment, it is probable that the life years lost among persons with schizophrenia (compared to the general population) will continue to worsen in future decades.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Pages (from-to)284-290
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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