Understanding and improving multidisciplinary team working in geriatric medicine

Age Ageing. 2019 Jul 1;48(4):498-505. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afz021.


Geriatric medicine is a speciality that has historically relied on team working to best serve patients. The nature of frailty in older people means that people present with numerous comorbidities, which in turn require a team-based approach to be managed, including allied health professionals, social work and nursing alongside medicine. The 'engine room' of the speciality has thus for many years been the multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting-something other specialities have discovered only recently. Yet, rather paradoxically, the speciality has been slow compared to others (e.g. trauma, surgery, cancer) to reflect more formally on how team working can be enhanced, trained and supported in geriatric teams. This paper is a reflective review, grounded on our respective expertise in geriatric medicine and improvement science, on practice and its changing patterns within geriatric medicine, and the role of MDTs within it (Part 1). It offers a perspective from behavioural safety science, which has been studying team-working in healthcare for the last 20 years (Part 2) and concludes with practical suggestions, based on evidence, on how to integrate evidence and best practice into modern geriatric medicine-to address current and future challenges (Part 3).

Keywords: comprehensive geriatric assessment; high performing teams; multidisciplinary teams; non-technical skills; older people; patient safety.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Geriatrics / methods
  • Geriatrics / organization & administration
  • Geriatrics / standards*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Care Team / standards*
  • Quality Improvement* / organization & administration