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Somatic symptoms study: physical health of patients with mental illness


Not only are those diagnosed with a mental disorder at greater risk of suffering from physical illness, but such health problems will often have extensive impact upon the psychological well-being and quality of life of these individuals. The principle objective of this study was to investigate whether psychiatric patients led a less healthy lifestyle, and experienced poorer physical health than the general population.

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The study sample was obtained from the Western Australian community and consisted of 55 psychiatric patients, and a matched control group comprised of 1210 representatives of the general population. A comparative analysis of data relating to a selection of lifestyle practices and physical measurements of the individuals from either group was performed.


The psychiatric patients generally consumed a higher amount of saturated fat, exercised less, had a greater intake of cigarettes and alcohol, and had a larger body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio. Compared to the general population therefore, the psychiatric patients were more often associated with behaviours that carry high health risks.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Janca, A., Isaac, M., Laugharne, J. et al. Somatic symptoms study: physical health of patients with mental illness. Ann Gen Psychiatry 5 (Suppl 1), S117 (2006).

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