A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry has found that a simple communications tool designed to facilitate patient-psychiatrist communication, can enable patients to play a greater role in contributing to the overall management of their condition and can lead to changes in how they are treated.

The 2-COM tool, freely available online, is a checklist of common problems designed to ensure that the patients concerns are identified and discussed during the clinical interview. Patients fill in the 2-COM checklist at the clinic before seeing the clinician.

According to the study, 2-COM was of greatest value to those patients who are experiencing the most problems with the management of their illness.

The 2-COM tool is a simple checklist identifying 20 common problems that a person with a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia might experience.  The tool was developed by a group of leading psychiatrists from around Europe in response to research indicating improvement in patient-professional communication can lead to improved patient outcomes, and was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from AstraZeneca Neuroscience.

The list includes problems associated with housing, relationships, money, lack of activities, psychological distress, sexuality, disease symptoms and treatment side effects. The checklist also includes a set of three scales designed to allow long-term assessment of the patient’s experience of treatment, ability to cope with social environments, and overall sense of well-being.

Professor Jim van Os, from Maastricht University, The Netherlands, and lead author of the study commented, "We are delighted that the results of this trial confirm the benefits for both patients and clinicians of adopting this simple communication tool in everyday practice.”

The 2-COM checklist is available in nine different languages from: http://www.2coms.homestead.com or http://www.psychiatryinpractice.com.