Research Group Aims to Reduce Excess Mortality Among the Mentally Ill Through Better Individual Treatment – University of Copenhagen

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05 January 2017

Research Group Aims to Reduce Excess Mortality Among the Mentally Ill Through Better Individual Treatment


The average lifespan of individuals suffering from a serious mental disorder is 10-20 years less than for individuals not suffering from a mental disorder. One of the reasons is that the mentally ill often also suffer from one or more physical disorders. A research group headed by Professor Susanne Reventlow from SUND wants to create a basis for changing this.

Through the project The Phy-Psy Trial the group aims to develop and test a treatment model that is adjusted and coordinated to fit the individual patient, the primary objective of which is to reduce excess mortality, among other things by acting on the failure to sufficiently diagnose and treat the physical disorders of mental patients. 

The cornerstones of each individual patient’s treatment plan are collaboration, coordination and communication supported by efficient IT solutions. The treatment model is produced by the patient, his or her family and network and professionals from general practice, the municipalities and hospitals together. The perspectives and experiences of all parties involved are thus considered. This co-design method must ensure that interventions can be implemented with success, as both practitioners, patients and relatives are committed to adjusting interventions to their opportunities and needs.

‘The project is at the forefront of and supports the development of a healthcare system that is close to the patients, and where more patients with chronic illnesses and complex problems are treated in general practice. The objective of The Phy-Psy Trial is to reduce excess mortality among these patients and to enhance the quality of life’, says Susanne Reventlow, Professor at the Research Unit for General Practice and the Section of General Medicine.

DKK 25 Million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The project has been launched on the basis of a five-year grant of DKK 25 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The grant is the first made under the foundation’s new research programme "General Practice in an Integrated Healthcare System – Optimal Care Pathways", the aim of which is to produce new knowledge on the optimal organisation of a coherent healthcare system.

Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Head of Research and Innovation Grants at the Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: ’We hope this new research programme will be able to make a positive contribution to the development of new forms of collaboration between hospitals, municipalities and general practice, placing the patient at the centre, and ensuring that a significant part of the treatment can take place at home’.

In addition to Susanne Reventlow and her staff at the Section of General Medicine and the Research Unit for General Practice at the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, the research group consists of Professor Flemming Bro, Research Unit for General Practice, Aarhus University, Professor Jakob Bardram, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Copenhagen, Professor Merete Nordentoft, Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen, and Head of Analysis and Research Pia Kürstein Kjellberg, KORA, the Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research. Various other Danish collaborators, including at regional and municipal levels, are involved in the international project.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The Novo Nordisk Foundation is a Danish foundation with corporate interests dating back to 1923.
The objective of the foundation is twofold: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities conducted by the companies within the Novo Group, and 2) to support scientific and humanitarian purposes.

The vision of the foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the health and welfare of people.

Since 2010 the foundation has awarded more than DKK 9 billion mainly to research conducted at public knowledge institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. Read more on