People with severe mental illness at 50 percent higher risk of death following COVID-19 infection

Nov. 3, 2023
The study is part of a Health Foundation funded project called COVID-19 Ethnic Inequalities in Mental health and Multimorbidities (COVE-IMM) that uses both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study investigated the extent to which having severe mental illness, which includes schizophrenia and psychosis, increased the risk of death during the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) and ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health analyzed data from over 660,000 UK patients between February 2020 and April 2021.

Among the 7146 people with severe mental illness, there was a 50 percent greater risk of death from all causes following COVID-19 infection compared with those without severe mental illness.

Black Caribbean/Black African people were at a 22 percent higher risk of death following COVID-19 infection than White people, and this was similar for people with and without severe mental illness. However, in around 30 percent of patient data, ethnicity was not recorded.

The study revealed regional differences: on average, risk of death following COVID-19 infection was higher among Northern UK regions compared to Southern regions. Those in Northern Ireland, the East Midlands and the North-East were at between 24 – 28 percent increased risk of death compared to those in London.

The research also found that those with more than one long-term health condition (multimorbidity) were at greater risk of death: for each additional long-term health condition, the risk of death increased by six percent for people with severe mental illness and 16 percent for people without severe mental illness following COVID-19 infection.

King's College London release on Newswise