On average, people with a serious mental illness die 10 to 25 years earlier than persons in the general population. This premature mortality is mostly due to physical illnesses. We are studying the health problems and health behaviors that often accompany serous mental illness and contribute to premature mortality. We are also studying interventions to reduce these health problems.

Current Studies

  • Assessing the association between smoking and clinical outcomes. Our studies are at the forefront of research that has identified smoking as a major health problem in persons with serious mental illness.   

  • Improving physical health and reducing mortality risk in persons with serious mental illness. In partnership with researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, we are focusing on how to help people with serious mental illness live healthier lives. The current trials in this area, all funded by NIH, include:

      • Trial of Comprehensive CVD Risk Reduction in Persons with Serious Mental Illness

      • Trial of Integrated Smoking Cessation, Exercise and Weight Management in MI: Triumph

      • Randomized Trial of a Healthy Weight Intervention for Youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance

  • MOBILITY study. In partnership with dozens of sites across the nation, we are studying whether adding metformin to a healthy lifestyle program can help children and teens control weight gain caused by taking second-generation antipsychotics.


We are also pleased to be part of the recently-established Center to Accelerate Translation of Interventions to Decrease Premature Mortality in SMI, led by Dr. Gail Daumit of Johns Hopkins on which Dr. Dickerson is a co-investigator. The proposed Center will develop and test innovative strategies for scaling-up effective interventions to address cardiovascular risk behaviors (unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco smoking) and risk factors (obesity, hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia) among consumers with serious mental illness.