Inequalities in lung cancer care of elderly patients with schizophrenia: An observational cohort study

Cara Bergamo, Keith Sigel, Grace Mhango, Minal Kale, Juan P. Wisnivesky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Cancer mortality is higher in individuals with schizophrenia, a finding that may be due, in part, to inequalities in care. We evaluated gaps in lung cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival among elderly individuals with schizophrenia. METHODS: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database linked to Medicare records was used to identify patients 66 years or older with primary non-small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer stage, diagnostic evaluation, and rates of stage-appropriate treatment were compared among patients with and without schizophrenia using unadjusted and multiple regression analyses. Survival was compared among groups using Kaplan-Meier methods. RESULTS: Of the 96,702 patients with non-small cell lung cancer in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, 1303 (1.3%) had schizophrenia. In comparison with the general population, patients with schizophrenia were less likely to present with late-stage disease after controlling for age, sex, marital status, race/ethnicity, income, histology, and comorbidities (odds ratio = 0.82, 95% confidence interval = 0.73-0.93) and were less likely to undergo appropriate evaluation (p < .050 for all comparisons). Adjusting for similar factors, patients with schizophrenia were also less likely to receive stage-appropriate treatment (odds ratio = 0.50, 95% confidence interval = 0.43-0.58). Survival was decreased among patients with schizophrenia (mean survival = 22.3 versus 26.3 months, p = .002); however, no differences were observed after controlling for treatment received (p = .40). CONCLUSIONS: Elderly patients with schizophrenia present with earlier stages of lung cancer but are less likely to undergo diagnostic evaluation or to receive stage-appropriate treatment, resulting in poorer outcomes. Efforts to increase treatment rates for elderly patients with schizophrenia may lead to improved survival in this group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cigarette smoking
  • Elderly
  • Health care disparities
  • Health outcomes
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Schizophrenia


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