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Differences in the prescribing of medication for physical disorders in individuals with v. without mental illness: meta-analysis

  • Alex J. Mitchell (a1), Oliver Lord (a2) and Darren Malone (a3)

There is some concern that patients with mental illness may be in receipt of inferior medical care, including prescribed medication for medical conditions.


We aimed to quantify possible differences in the prescription of medication for medical conditions in those with v. without mental illness.


Systematic review and random effects meta-analysis with a minimum of three independent studies to warrant pooling by drug class.


We found 61 comparative analyses (from 23 publications) relating to the prescription of 12 classes of medication for cardiovascular health, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and HIV in a total sample of 1931 509 people, in those with severe mental illness the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for an equitable prescription was 0.74 (95% CI 0.63-0.86), with lower than expected prescriptions for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ACE/ ARBs), beta-blockers and statins. People with affective disorder had an odds ratio of 0.75 (95% CI 0.55-1.02) but this was not significant. Individuals with a history of other (miscellaneous) mental illness had an odds ratio of 0.95 (95% CI 0.92-0.98) of comparable medication with lower receipt of ACE/ARBs but not highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) medication. Results were significant in both adjusted and unadjusted analyses.


Individuals with severe mental illness (including schizophrenia) appear to be prescribed significantly lower quantities of several common medications for medical disorders, largely for cardiovascular indications, although further work is required to clarify to what extent this is because of prescriber intent.

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Corresponding author
Alex J. Mitchell, MRCPsych, Department of Psycho-oncology, Leicestershire Partnership Trust, Leicester LE5 0TD, UK. Email:
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Differences in the prescribing of medication for physical disorders in individuals with v. without mental illness: meta-analysis

  • Alex J. Mitchell (a1), Oliver Lord (a2) and Darren Malone (a3)
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