Is it worth reorganising cancer services on the basis of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs)? A systematic review of the objectives and organisation of MDTs and their impact on patient outcomes

Health Policy. 2015 Apr;119(4):464-74. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are considered the gold standard of cancer care in many healthcare systems, but a clear definition of their format, scope of practice and operational criteria is still lacking. The aims of this review were to assess the impact of MDTs on patient outcomes in cancer care and identify their objectives, organisation and ability to engage patients in their care. We conducted a systematic review of the literature in the Medline database. Fifty-one peer-reviewed papers were selected from November 2005 to June 2012. MDTs resulted in better clinical and process outcomes for cancer patients, with evidence of improved survival among colorectal, head and neck, breast, oesophageal and lung cancer patients in the study period. Also, it was observed that MDTs have been associated with changes in clinical diagnostic and treatment decision-making with respect to urological, pancreatic, gastro-oesophageal, breast, melanoma, bladder, colorectal, prostate, head and neck and gynaecological cancer. Evidence is consistent in showing positive consequences for patients' management in multiple dimensions, which should encourage the development of structured multidisciplinary care, minimum standards and exchange of best practices.

Keywords: Clinical conference; Interdisciplinary health team; Multidisciplinary communication; Neoplasms; Outcome and process assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*