Multidisciplinary care of breast cancer patients: a scoping review of multidisciplinary styles, processes, and outcomes

Curr Oncol. 2019 Jun;26(3):e385-e397. doi: 10.3747/co.26.4713. Epub 2019 Jun 1.


Background: Clinical practice guidelines recommend a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care that brings together all relevant disciplines to discuss optimal disease management. However, the literature is characterized by heterogeneous definitions and few reviews about the processes and outcomes of multidisciplinary care. The objective of this scoping review was to identify and classify the definitions and characteristics of multidisciplinary care, as well as outcomes and interventions for patients with breast cancer.

Methods: A systematic search for quantitative and qualitative studies about multidisciplinary care for patients with breast cancer was conducted for January 2001 to December 2017 in the following electronic databases: medline, embase, PsycInfo, and cinahl. Two reviewers independently applied our eligibility criteria at level 1 (title/abstract) and level 2 (full-text) screening. Data were extracted and synthesized descriptively.

Results: The search yielded 9537 unique results, of which 191 were included in the final analysis. Two main types of multidisciplinary care were identified: conferences and clinics. Most studies focused on outcomes of multidisciplinary care that could be variously grouped at the patient, provider, and system levels. Research into processes tended to focus on processes that facilitate implementation: team-working, meeting logistics, infrastructure, quality audit, and barriers and facilitators.

Summary: Approaches to multidisciplinary care using conferences and clinics are well described. However, studies vary by design, clinical context, patient population, and study outcome. The heterogeneity of the literature, including the patient populations studied, warrants further specification of multidisciplinary care practice and systematic reviews of the processes or contexts that make the implementation and operation of multidisciplinary care effective.

Keywords: Breast neoplasms; breast cancer; clinics; conferencing; interdisciplinary teams; multidisciplinary management; teamwork; tumour boards.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Treatment Outcome

Grant support