Patients with a serious mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may underreport co-occurring medical conditions. Dr Amy Kilbourne and colleagues performed a cross-sectional analysis of 35,857 patients from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Registry to determine whether SMI patients were less likely to report a co-occurring medical condition. Results were published in the August 2006 issue of The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
The study compared VA patients who had received an SMI diagnosis with those who had not. The researchers used inpatient and outpatient data to identify patients in whom any of these conditions were diagnosed and compared their findings with patients' self-reports. Analysis showed that patients with an SMI were less likely than non-SMI patients to report being told by doctors that they had heart disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, back pain, congestive heart failure, and hypertension (P < .001 for each). The researchers emphasized the need for clinicians to make sure that patients are aware of their medical conditions.