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Research on sickness absence has typically focussed on single diagnoses, despite increasing recognition that long-term health conditions are highly multimorbid and clusters comprising coexisting mental and physical conditions are associated with poorer clinical and functional outcomes. The digitisation of sickness certification in the UK offers an opportunity to address sickness absence in a large primary care population.
Lambeth Datanet is a primary care database which collects individual-level data on general practitioner consultations, prescriptions, Quality and Outcomes Framework diagnostic data, sickness certification (fit note receipt) and demographic information (including age, gender, self-identified ethnicity, and truncated postcode). We analysed 326 415 people's records covering a 40-month period from January 2014 to April 2017.
We found significant variation in multimorbidity by demographic variables, most notably by self-defined ethnicity. Multimorbid health conditions were associated with increased fit note receipt. Comorbid depression had the largest impact on first fit note receipt, more than any other comorbid diagnoses. Highest rates of first fit note receipt after adjustment for demographics were for comorbid epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis (HR 4.69; 95% CI 1.73–12.68), followed by epilepsy and depression (HR 4.19; 95% CI 3.60–4.87), chronic pain and depression (HR 4.14; 95% CI 3.69–4.65), cardiac condition and depression (HR 4.08; 95% CI 3.36–4.95).
Our results show striking variation in multimorbid conditions by gender, deprivation and ethnicity, and highlight the importance of multimorbidity, in particular comorbid depression, as a leading cause of disability among working-age adults.
Across international contexts, people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) experience marked reductions in life expectancy at birth. The intersection of ethnicity and social deprivation on life expectancy in SMI is unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of ethnicity and area-level deprivation on life expectancy at birth in SMI, defined as schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders and depression, using data from London, UK.
Abridged life tables to calculate life expectancy at birth, in a cohort with clinician-ascribed ICD-10 schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders or depression, managed in secondary mental healthcare. Life expectancy in the study population with SMI was compared with life expectancy in the general population and with those residing in the most deprived areas in England.
Irrespective of ethnicity, people with SMI experienced marked reductions in life expectancy at birth compared with the general population; from 14.5 years loss in men with schizophrenia-spectrum and bipolar disorders, to 13.2 years in women. Similar reductions were noted for people with depression. Across all diagnoses, life expectancy at birth in people with SMI was lower than the general population residing in the most deprived areas in England.
Irrespective of ethnicity, reductions in life expectancy at birth among people with SMI are worse than the general population residing in the most deprived areas in England. This trend in people with SMI is similar to groups who experience extreme social exclusion and marginalisation. Evidence-based interventions to tackle this mortality gap need to take this into account.
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