People with serious mental illness (SMI) have mortality rates two to three times higher than that of the overall U.S. population. The prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes mellitus, and other conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, are particularly heightened in this group.
Based on the recommendations of a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) stakeholder meeting, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and NIMH conducted a comprehensive review examining the strength of the evidence surrounding interventions to address major medical conditions and health-risk behaviors among persons with SMI. A total of 108 randomized, controlled trials and observational studies testing interventions to address medical conditions and risk behaviors among persons with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder between January 2000 and June 2014 were included.
The authors found that well-designed behavioral interventions and metformin were beneficial for weight loss, and bupropion and varenicline reduced tobacco smoking among people with serious mental illness. However, the strength of the evidence was low for most other interventions reviewed.
“Future studies should test long-term interventions to cardiovascular risk factors and health-risk behaviors,” the researchers stated. “In addition, future research should study implementation strategies to effectively translate efficacious interventions into real-world settings.”
For more information, see the Psychiatric News article “What Can Psychiatrists Do for People With SMI?”