Year: 2022 Source: Asian Journal of Psychiatry. (2022). 77, 103262. SIEC No: 20221074

Background: Patients with mental disorders are at increased risk of premature mortality. Psychiatric inpatients are a particularly vulnerable population, yet data on the mortality rate and causes of death among psychiatric inpatients in a national sample are scarce.

Methods: We analyzed data collected from patients who died during psychiatric hospitalization in 2019 and 2020 from 41 psychiatric hospitals in China.

Results: In total, 719 inpatients died over the study period. There were more deaths in 2019 (N = 409, 56.9%) compared to 2020 (N = 310, 43.1%). The mean age was 73.3 ± 16.5 years old, with males significantly younger than females (71.5 ± 16.9 vs. 75.9 ± 15.6, p < 0.001). Sudden death accounted for 11.5% of all deaths. The cause was unknown for 31.2% of cases. Among those with known causes of death, respiratory disorders were most common in patients with psychotic disorders (41.9%) and mood disorders (29.8%). Suicide accounted for 17.0% of deaths in patients with mood disorders.

Conclusion: Patients who died during psychiatric hospitalization were overall older (>70 years), and more than one in ten died due to sudden death. While respiratory disorders accounted for the largest proportion of known causes, the causes were unknown in nearly one-third. Death due to suicide, a preventable cause, remained common among patients with mood disorders. Evidence-based interventions should be implemented.