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Cause-specific mortality in Finnish forensic psychiatric patients [2018]

Purpose: To analyze the causes of mortality among patients committed to compulsory forensic psychiatric hospital treatment in Finland during 1980–2009 by categorizing the causes of mortality into somatic diseases, suicides and other unnatural deaths.

Materials and methods: The causes of mortality were analyzed among 351 patients who died during the follow-up. Standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was calculated as the ratio of observed and expected number of deaths by using the subject-years methods with 95% confidence intervals, assuming a Poisson distribution. The expected number of deaths was calculated on the basis of sex-, age- and calendar-period-specific mortality rates for the Finnish population.

Results: The vast majority (249/351) of deaths were due to a somatic disease with SMR of 2.6 (mean age at death 61 years). Fifty nine patients committed suicide with a SMR of 7.1 (mean age at death 40 years). Four patients were homicide victims (mean age at death 40 years) and 32 deaths were accidental (mean age at death 52 years). The combined homicides and accidental deaths resulted in a SMR of 1.7.

Conclusions: The results of this study point out that the high risk for suicide should receive attention when the hospital treatment and the outpatient care is being organized for forensic psychiatric patients. In addition, the risk of accidents should be evaluated and it should be assured that the patients receive proper somatic healthcare during the forensic psychiatric treatment and that it continues also in the outpatient setting.

Ilkka Ojansuu, Hanna Putkonen & Jari Tiihonen

Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 72, 2018 – Issue 5

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