Need for accurate data
Dr. Kurdyak and colleagues decided to conduct their study because previous analyses have tended to use methods of identifying people with schizophrenia that might distort the figures.
“It’s clear that there is not enough evidence to support what we should be doing,” says Dr. Kurdyak.
For example, studies have previously used hospital admissions as a way of identifying people with schizophrenia, which can lead to bias toward more severe illness as it “misses individuals managed in ambulatory settings.”
Also, other studies have used severe mental illness categories “that include disorders other than schizophrenia.”
However, in Ontario, the way that records are maintained allowed the researchers to accurately identify “every resident within the population who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia.”
For their analysis, the team examined records for more than 1.6 million deaths that occurred in Ontario in the 20-year period between 1993 and 2012.