COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Psychiatric Disorders

Grant Details

Funder: NIMH (MHRN III Feasibility Pilot Program)

Grant Number: U19MH121738

Project Period: 7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022


Background: Psychiatric disorders, and especially severe mental illness (SMI), are associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection and COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality. Several studies have found an association between an existing psychiatric disorder and increased risk for COVID-19 infection and COVID-19-related hospitalization, morbidity, and mortality. Factors that contribute to worse outcomes include concomitant medications, poorer premorbid general health, physical comorbidity, reduced access to medical care, and environmental and lifestyle factors such as lower socioeconomic status, smoking, or obesity. In light of these vulnerabilities, it is important that people with SMI receive a vaccination. However, people with SMI are less likely to receive preventive or guideline-appropriate health care for concerns such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. This reduced access to preventive care is reflected in the low uptake of immunizations recommended for adults among people with SMI. Of these, influenza may serve as a particularly useful model given the recommendation for an annual vaccination. In contrast with other vulnerable groups in the United States, influenza vaccination rates among people with SMI are as low as 25%. The purpose of this analysis is to examine COVID-19 vaccine uptake among individuals with diagnosed psychiatric disorders compared to individuals without any diagnosed psychiatric disorders and to examine whether there is variation by type of diagnosis, sociodemographic and/or clinical characteristics. There have been no known studies published to date that address this topic.

  • Research Questions:
    • Are individuals with diagnosed psychiatric disorders more or less likely to have received the COVID vaccine compared to those without any diagnosed psychiatric disorders? How does this pattern compare to uptake of the flu vaccine in this population?
    • Among those with diagnosed psychiatric disorders, is there variation in COVID vaccination status by type of psychiatric disorder? By other sociodemographic and clinical characteristics?

Methods: Using electronic medical record data across 2 Mental Health Research Network sites (KPGA and KPSC), individuals with diagnosed psychiatric disorders will be identified and matched on age and sex to controls with no diagnosed psychiatric disorders.

  • Analyses:
    • Compare sample characteristics of persons with and without any psychiatric disorder using χ2 tests for categorical variables and t tests for continuous variables.
    • Calculate the proportion of eligible patients who received the COVID-19 vaccine by psychiatric status (no diagnosis vs. psychiatric diagnosis).
    • Use multivariable methods to examine the relationship between psychiatric disorders status and vaccine uptake, controlling for demographic characteristics, medical comorbidities (Charlson score), and whether individual lives in rural or medically-underserved area.

Planned Product: The results of this study will be published and presented at a conference and will be used as preliminary data to guide (1) qualitative research to better understand any differences between patients with vs. without mental health conditions and/or (2) intervention research to improve vaccine uptake in this population.

  • Lead Site: KPGA (PI Ashli Owen-Smith)
  • Participating Sites:
    • KPSC (Co-I Karen Coleman)
    • KPWA (Lead Analyst Chris Stewart)

Current Status:

Manuscript is in-progress (will be ready to submit for publication by end of the year)

Summary of Findings: