The mortality of psychiatric patients is higher than that of the general population. Earlier studies have typically focused on specific diagnostic categories or causes of death. The aim of this study was to assess the overall mortality in acute psychiatric hospital patients covering all diagnostic groups, with special emphasis on substance abuse.
The sample consisted of all 18-64-year old patients (n = 3,835) treated or evaluated in the acute wards of the Department of Psychiatry at Tampere University Hospital between the years 1999 and 2003, who were followed-up until the end of the year 2005. We assessed the various causes of death according to background variables in bivariate and multivariate analyses and calculated the standardized mortality ratios (SMRs).
During the study period 379 subjects died (9.9% of the sample). Mortality among men was almost twice as high as among women. Of all deaths, 45.6% were considered to be alcohol or drug related. SMR covering all subjects was 6.55. The SMRs for unnatural causes were higher than those for natural causes. The highest SMRs for unnatural causes of death were found in patients with mood disorders and the highest SMRs for natural causes of death in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Use of coercive measures was associated with increased mortality.
Mortality among Finnish psychiatric acute hospital patients is considerably higher than in general population. Excessive alcohol consumption plays a major role in causing excess deaths that could be potentially avoided.