Comorbidities of mental illness
Individuals with a mental illness are much more likely to also experience other health problems. Two of the most important such ‘comorbidities’ of mental illness are the (mis)use of addictive substances and cardiovascular disease. Combined, substance use and cardiovascular disease play a driving role in decreasing quality and duration of life of individuals with mental illness. Jorien Treur, member of GENE Amsterdam, has received a Starting grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to investigate precisely how mental illness, substance use, and cardiovascular disease are connected.
What is particularly unclear, is whether there are causal effects of mental illness with substance use and cardiovascular disease. Identifying causal effects is challenging due to the multifactorial outcomes that are involved. Dr. Treur will apply several innovative epidemiological and genetic causal methods and carefully compare their results to come to reliable answers. Using the resulting information, Dr. Treur will then test how this causal knowledge affects clinical decision-making among psychiatrists.
Finally, an important focal point is ethnic diversity. Individuals of non-European ancestry are hugely underrepresented in (psychiatric) research, while they are affected by a greater disease burden. By including powerful multi-ethnic samples Jorien Treur hopes to help fill this important knowledge gap.