People with schizophrenia are twice as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than people without the disorder. They’re also 3 times more likely to die from the virus, according to a study recently published in Oxford’s Schizophrenia Bulletin.
The researchers wanted to examine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with severe mental illness. An earlier study suggested the cognitive impairment and sociodemographic characteristics of people with schizophrenia put them at a high risk for infection. Overall poor physical health of this population may contribute to hospitalizations and deaths.
To investigate, the researchers used the database of the Clalit Health Services (CHS), the largest operating health care organization in Israel. The total number of participants was about 51,000. Potential risk factors examined include smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, COPD, and heart disease.
People with schizophrenia were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 [OR 2.13 95% CI 1.62–2.81 P < .0001] and more than 3 times more susceptible to COVID-19 mortality [OR 3.14 95% CI 1.34–7.36 P < .0001], compared to controls.
Limitations include the sample utilized not being a representative sample. No conclusions can be made about cause. The small number of deceased individuals also weakens statistical power for that group.
Hospitalized schizophrenia patients were mostly men. They had a higher mean age and a higher prevalence of smoking, obesity, diabetes, and COPD than those not hospitalized. Schizophrenia patients who died from COVID-19 were younger on average than the hospitalized group, but were mostly men who, like the hospitalized group, had a high ratio of smoking and COPD.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors report no conflicts of interest but several financial relations. Please see the original document for more information.
Tzur Bitan D, Krieger I, Kridin K, et al. COVID-19 prevalence and mortality among schizophrenia patients: a large-scale retrospective cohort study. Schizophr Bull. 2021 Feb 19:sbab012. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbab012