Quality improvement in multidisciplinary cancer teams: an investigation of teamwork and clinical decision-making and cross-validation of assessments

Ann Surg Oncol. 2011 Dec;18(13):3535-43. doi: 10.1245/s10434-011-1773-5. Epub 2011 May 19.


Purpose: Teamworking and clinical decision-making are important in multidisciplinary cancer teams (MDTs). Our objective is to assess the quality of information presentation and MDT members' contribution to decision-making via expert observation and self-report, aiming to cross-validate the two methods and assess the insight of MDT members into their own team performance.

Materials and methods: Behaviors were scored using (i) a validated observational tool employing Likert scales with objective anchors, and (ii) a 29-question online self-report tool. Data were collected from observation of 164 cases in five MDTs, and 47 surveys from MDT members (response rate 70%). Presentation of information (case history, radiological, pathological, comorbidities, psychosocial, and patients' views) and quality of contribution to decision-making of MDT members (surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, and MDT coordinators) were analyzed via descriptive statistics and the Jonckheere-Terpstra test. Correlation between observational and self-report assessments was assessed with Spearman's correlations.

Results: Quality of information presentation: Case histories and radiology information rated highest; patients' views and comorbidities/psychosocial issues rated lowest (observed: Z = 14.80, P ≤ 0.001; self-report: Z = 3.70, P < 0.001). Contribution to decision-making: Surgeons and oncologists rated highest, nurses and MDT coordinators rated lowest, and others in between (observed: Z = 20.00, P ≤ 0.001; self-report: Z = 8.10, P < 0.001). Correlations between observational and self-report assessments: Median Spearman's rho = 0.74 (range = 0.66-0.91; P < 0.05).

Conclusions: The quality of teamworking and clinical decision-making in MDTs can reliably be assessed using observational and self-report metrics. MDT members have good insight into their own team performance. Such robust assessment methods could provide the basis of a toolkit for MDT team evaluation and improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Medical Oncology / organization & administration*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*