Novo Nordisk Foundation Grant

Monday 17 Apr 17


Susanne Reventlow
Department of Public Health
+45 20 23 40 33

Life expectancy

People with severe mental illness (SMI) comprise about 2% of the Danish population and they die 10-20 years earlier than people without SMI. In Region Zealand and Central Denmark Region, the 10-year mortality of patients aged 18-65 admitted to a psychiatric department during the preceding 5 years is 18.1%, while it is 4.3% in the rest of the population. Most of this excess mortality stems from physical diseases, which are underdiagnosed and undertreated.

People with a severe mental disorder have 10–20 years shorter life expectancy than people with no mental illness. One reason is that the people with a severe mental disorder often also have one or more comorbid physical health conditions.

A group of researchers in the Copenhagen Center for Health Technology led by Susanne Reventlow of the University of Copenhagen will strive address this fundamental problem.

Through the Phy-Psy Trial, the group will develop and test an individually tailored and coordinated treatment model with the primary aim of reducing excess mortality by intervening to change the inadequate diagnosis and treatment of comorbid physical health conditions.

The cornerstones for treating each individual will be cooperation, coordination and communication supported by effective information technology solutions. The treatment model is being developed in close collaboration with patients, their families and networks and professionals associated with general practices, municipalities and the hospital services. All the perspectives and experiences of the parties involved will be integrated. The co-design method used will ensure that the efforts can be successfully implemented since healthcare professionals and patients and their relatives will be motivated to tailor the intervention to their potential and needs.


"The project is based on and supports the development of decentralized healthcare services in which general practices treat more people with chronic diseases and complex health problems"
Susanne Reventlow, Professor, University of Copenhagen.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is providing a five-year grant of DKK 25 million to the project. The grant is the first in the Foundation’s new research programme "General Practice in a Coherent Healthcare System – Optimal Care Pathways", which aims to create new knowledge on the best way to organize a coherent healthcare system.

Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Head of Research and Innovation Grants, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “We hope that this new research programme will contribute positively to developing new forms of collaboration between hospitals, municipalities and general practices that are patient-oriented and will contribute to delivering much of the treatment at home.”

In addition to Susanne Reventlow and her colleagues from the Section of General Practice and the Research Unit for General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, the research group comprises:

  • Flemming Bro, Research Unit for General Practice, Aarhus University;
  • Jakob Bardram, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark;
  • Merete Nordentoft, Mental Health Centre Copenhagen and Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen;
  • Pia Kürstein Kjellberg, Research, Evaluation and Innovation Department, Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research.

In addition, the project has many collaborative partners, including in municipalities and administrative regions in Denmark, and has international participation.