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Commentary
May 19, 2010

Improving Health and Health Care for Persons With Serious Mental IllnessThe Window for US Federal Policy Change

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University (Dr Druss), and the Carter Center Mental Health Program (Dr Bornemann), Atlanta, Georgia.

JAMA. 2010;303(19):1972-1973. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.615

In 1928, Benjamin Malzberg, a young epidemiologist in New York State's Division of Mental Hygiene, began a groundbreaking study examining causes of mortality in New York State's mental hospitals. During the ensuing 3 years, Malzberg reviewed every death that occurred throughout the state's psychiatric hospital system; his findings were both surprising and troubling. Patients in these hospitals died an average of 15 years younger than the general population of New York State.1 Malzberg speculated that these excess deaths were likely due to a complex combination of factors:

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