Background: Schizophrenia patients have shorter life expectancy often owing to preventable physical illnesses and sub-optimal utilization of medical services. However, the association between service-utilization and mortality has not been explored. Aim: To assess whether medical service-utilization moderates the association between physical morbidity and premature mortality in a nation-wide cohort. Methods: A population representative database of the largest health provider in Israel was analyzed. All electronic health records of patients with schizophrenia diagnosis (ICD code F.20) (n = 24,679) were followed-up between 2012 and 2015, and compared to the general population (n = 2,232,804), in terms of metabolic and cardiovascular morbidity, all-cause mortality, primary medical and specialist health service-utilization and general hospitalizations. Results: Schizophrenia was associated with increased mortality risk (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 3.52, 95%CI 3.35–3.72). Most deaths were related to physical illnesses. Metabolic syndrome components, except chronic hypertension, were more prevalent among patients. They were referred more frequently to primary and less to secondary services (aHR = 1.05, 95%CI 1.04–1.06, aHR = 0.95, 95%CI 0.94–0.97, respectively), with higher hospitalization rates (0.23 ± 0.90 vs 0.10 ± 0.50 per year), and longer mean duration of hospitalization (2.02 ± 10.24 vs 0.68 ± 5.51 days, P < 0.001). More contacts with primary care physicians or specialists positively moderated the association between mortality and metabolic disturbances in patients with schizophrenia; more contacts were associated with better outcomes. Conclusions: An association between premature mortality and metabolic syndrome was found among schizophrenia patients while utilization of primary/secondary medical services moderated the lethal effects of metabolic dysregulation. Increased integrative primary care and a national monitoring system are warranted to reduce mortality rate in this population.
- Health services
- Physical morbidity