The widespread introduction of multidisciplinary team (MDT)-work for breast cancer management has in part evolved due to the increasing complexity of diagnostic and treatment decision-making. An MDT approach aims to bring together the range of specialists required to discuss and agree treatment recommendations and ongoing management for individual patients. MDTs are resource-intensive yet we lack strong (randomized controlled trial) evidence of their effectiveness. Clinical consensus is generally favorable on the benefits of effective specialist MDT-work. Many studies have shown the benefits of receiving treatment from a specialist center, and evidence continues to accrue from comparative studies of clinical benefits of an MDT approach, including improved survival. Patients' views of the MDT model of decision-making (and in particular its impact on involvement in decisions about their care) have been under-researched. Barriers to effective teamwork and poor decision-making include excessive caseload, low attendance at meetings, lack of leadership, poor communication, role ambiguity, and failure to consider patients' holistic needs. Breast cancer nurses have a key role in relation to assessing holistic needs, and their specialist contribution has also been associated with improved patient experience and quality of life. This paper examines the evidence for the benefits of MDT-work, in particular for breast cancer. Evidence is considered within a context of growing cancer incidence at a time of increased financial restraint, and it may now be important to reevaluate the structure and models of MDT-work to ensure that MDTs are an efficient use of resources.
Keywords: interdisciplinary teams; interprofessional interactions; multidisciplinary collaboration; teams; teamwork.