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Mastering the Kennedy Axis V

A New Psychiatric Assessment of Patient Functioning

James A. Kennedy, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-062-3
  • Item #62062
For information about the Kennedy Axis V (K Axis) Questionnaire: A New Psychiatric Assessment of Patient Functioning, please go to

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Mastering the Kennedy Axis V: A New Psychiatric Assessment of Patient Functioning is a hands-on guide to using the Kennedy Axis V (K Axis). This fast and powerful instrument is at the heart of James A. Kennedy's approach to psychiatric treatment planning.

This versatile and practical workbook is an excellent training tool to help clinicians (including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and nurses) develop knowledge, skill, and confidence in using the K Axis. Mastering the Kennedy Axis V will help you

  • Develop ease and facility with the concepts on which the K Axis is founded
  • Gain practical experience in using the K Axis through practical exercises
  • Build a foundation for systematically tracking response to treatment, including response to medication
  • Organize and track the flow of clinical information through a patient's clinical databases, treatment plan and progress notes

Step-by-step, you'll walk through the conceptual underpinnings and rating systems of the seven subscales: psychological impairment, social skills, violence, activities of daily living/occupational skills, substance abuse, medical impairment and ancillary impairment. Through a wide variety of clinical vignettes, you will gain practical experience in using the K Axis to quickly develop basic clinical measurements and profiles.

Developed as an alternative to the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale, the Kennedy Axis V is clear, intuitive, effective—and preferred by a growing number of clinicians. Mastering the Kennedy Axis V provides a user-friendly roadmap to using the K Axis to more thoroughly assess patients' clinical status, resulting in better treatment and outcome.


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Cautionary Note
  • Identifying Patient Data
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Kennedy Axis V Questionnaire
  • Chapter 3. Scoring the Kennedy Axis V
  • Chapter 4. GAF Equivalent and Dangerousness Level
  • Chapter 5. Problem Description Section of the Scoring Sheet
  • Chapter 6. Scoring Clinical Vignettes (Self-Examination)
  • Chapter 7. Completed Kennedy Axis V Scoring Sheets
  • Chapter 8. Profiles
  • Appendix

About the Authors

James A. Kennedy, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, Director of the Demonstration Unit at Westborough State Hospital in Westborough, Massachusetts, and President of Kennedy, MD Consulting in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Kennedy's original purpose in designing the Kennedy Axis V was to better organize psychiatric information and to track outcomes. It appears that he has developed a simple means for doing both. . . .More good news for facilities reporting to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations: data from the Kennedy Axis V can be reported via the ORYX system.—Stacey Dixon, Ph.D.,, Psychiatric Services, 2/1/2004

The Kennedy Axis V is clearly an effective and efficient method of gathering and reporting valuable patient clinical-behavioral information. The scale as developed and reported on by Dr. James Kennedy in his book, Mastering the Kennedy Axis V: A New Psychiatric Assessment of Patient Functioning, concisely documents the need for a standardized measurement of functional behavior. Dr. Kennedy outlines the theoretical and practical underpinnings of the Kennedy Axis V, and artfully explains its development. The Holy Grail for mental health treatment has been the symptom. As pointed out by Dr. Kennedy this uni-dimensional view narrows our focus of treatment. Ultimately it is not only the symptom, but also the behavioral manifestation of the symptom that defines the level of improvement or relapse. Dr. Kennedy clearly delineates the advantages of the Kennedy Axis V for both guiding treatment and assessing outcome. The scale is remarkably flexible and offers up a full portfolio of information without requiring the clinician to spend extra time administering and scoring other instruments. The numerous clinical vignettes provide plenty of practice for honing one's skills with the Kennedy Axis V. Also as Dr. Kennedy suggests, the completed Kennedy Axis V is a ready made treatment plan.—Mark P. Goldman, Ph. D., Director of Psychological Services, Kerrville State Hospital, Kerrville, Texas

This text provides one of the most useful means of organizing clinical data for treatment planning and decision making in quite some time. We find this to be an exciting and particularly useful constructs for use in our forensic programs to organize treatment around violence risk assessment and management and improvement of the instrumental role functioning of the people we serve. It is user friendly and concise. Having seen the volume of the Kennedy Axis V in our programs, we are organizing our treatment planning hospital-wide around the use of the Kennedy Axis V.—Jeff Bearden, LMSW-ACP, BCD, Director of Forensic Psychiatric Programs, North Texas State Hospital, Vernon, Texas

Dr. Kennedy provides an expanded and compelling approach to multiple domains of assessment for Axis V. He provides the reader with a 100 point scale to rate psychological impairment, social skills, violence, ADL-occupational skills, substance abuse, medical impairment, and ancillary impairment. This comprehensive approach to Axis V assessment addresses many of the concerns about a single measure of global assessment of functioning.—Alan M. Gruenberg, M.D., Professor, Dept of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Jefferson Medical College; President, Gruenberg & Summers, P.C.; Chair, Work Group on Multiaxial Issues, DSM-IV-TR, APA

Dr. Kennedy has taken the concept of global assessment of functioning to a new level. By breaking functional level into domains, a previously non specific scale has become a tangible measure of outcomes and a vital tool in the evaluation and treatment of mental illness. One of the singularly most difficult concepts in treatment planning is that of 'measurability.' Dr. Kennedy has provided a tool that can be used by all levels of mental health providers to quantify function as well as measure improvement—possibly the single most important factor to monitor.—Lauren Parsons, M.D., Clinical Director for Operations, North Texas State Hospital

Mastering the Kennedy Axis V: A New Psychiatric Assessment of Patient Functioning is a thoughtfully created measurement tool that offers real potential for assessing clinical progress of mental health clients. In contrast to the GAF, the Kennedy Scale offers specific feedback on a variety of important outcome domains, each of which can be separately analyzed and incorporated into ongoing treatment plans. Moreover, the Kennedy Scale incorporates aspects of the entire well-being of clients, including their occupational skills, living situation, and financial and legal issues. Frequently, these important life domain questions are missing from mental health measurement tools. Because of its ease of scoring and orientation toward quantifiable outcomes, the Kennedy Scale will likely be a major contribution to the behavioral health community.—Steve Hahn-Smith, Ph.D., Contra Costa County Health Services Department, Division of Mental Health, California

This is an excellent and useful guide on how to use an instrument that can be used in place of the GAF. As managed care continues to be the norm in medicine, it helps to quantify and measure the patient's clinical status, his progress, his potential for recovery, and the effectiveness of treatment. It also more clearly describes the level of care each patient requires, which could be useful in determining staffing needs. I would recommend it as an excellent addition to any clinician's library.—Diana Marta, BSN, RN, Doody's Book Reviews, 2/1/2004

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