BACKGROUND: Excess morbidity and mortality associated with schizophrenia is well established. Despite this, no previous multi-centre study has investigated whether patients with schizophrenia receive equitable physical healthcare within primary care. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia receive the same levels of physical health care from primary care practitioners as patients without schizophrenia. METHODS: Design: Case-matched retrospective case note review. Setting: Twenty-two general practices in the Birmingham area (UK). Subjects: 195 patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, 390 matched controls with a diagnosis of asthma and 390 general control patients. Main outcome measures: Proportions of patients within each group having received six pre-defined routine health checks in a 3 year period. Conditional logistic regression models were used to identify differences between groups. RESULTS: Patients with schizophrenia were half as likely as asthma controls to have blood pressure and cholesterol levels recorded (odds ratio 0.51; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.35-0.73 and 0.50; 0.31-0.82, respectively) and were also less likely to have smoking status noted (0.60; 0.41-0.85). Similarly, patients with schizophrenia were significantly less likely than general population controls to have either blood pressure or cholesterol recorded (0.68; 0.47-0.97 and 0.58; 0.35-0.95). The significant differences observed were maintained after adjusting for potential confounders with the exception of cholesterol recording between the asthma and schizophrenia groups (0.57; 0.30-1.05). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are less likely to receive some important general health checks than patients without schizophrenia.
- primary care