Prevalence of physical health conditions and health risk behaviours in people with severe mental illness in South Asia: multi-country cross-sectional survey.
People with severe mental illness (SMI) die earlier than the general population, primarily because of physical disorders. However, there is a lack of empirical studies originating in South Asia on the distribution and determinants of physical multimorbidity in people with SMI. The IMPACT Research Programme’s multi-country cross-sectional survey estimated the prevalence of physical health conditions, health risk behaviours, access to healthcare and health risk modification advice in people with SMI in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and compared results with the general population. The results of the survey were published online in the BJPsych Open by Cambridge University Press on 23 February 2023.
A detailed understanding of the prevalence of physical multimorbidity and current access to health advice and treatments for physical disorders in people with SMI in LMICs can inform appropriate service provision.
Method: The team conducted a cross-sectional survey in adults with SMI attending mental hospitals in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Data were collected on non-communicable diseases, their risk factors, health risk behaviours, treatments, health risk modification advice, common mental disorders, health-related quality of life and infectious diseases. The team then performed a descriptive analysis and compared findings with the general population in the World Health Organization (WHO) ‘STEPwise Approach to Surveillance of NCDs’ reports.
The survey found significant gaps in detection, prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors in people with SMI.
- The team recruited 3989 participants with SMI, of which 11% had diabetes, 23.3% had hypertension or high blood pressure and 46.3% had overweight or obesity.
- 70.8% of participants with diabetes, high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia were previously undiagnosed; of those diagnosed, only around half were receiving treatment.
- A total of 47% of men and 14% of women used tobacco; 45.6% and 89.1% of participants did not meet WHO recommendations for physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake, respectively.
- Compared with the general population, people with SMI were more likely to have diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and overweight or obesity, and less likely to receive tobacco cessation and weight management advice.
Read the BJPsych Open paper
Supplementary material is also available online
Listen to corresponding author Gerardo A. Zavala outline how this important multi-country cross-sectional survey is part of ongoing research delivered by the Centre for IMPACT and the original IMPACT Programme 2018-2022.