How Ineffective Interprofessional Collaboration Affects Delivery of Breast Reconstruction to Breast Cancer Patients: A Qualitative Study

Ann Surg Oncol. 2020 Jul;27(7):2299-2310. doi: 10.1245/s10434-020-08463-0. Epub 2020 Apr 15.


Background: Despite the benefits of breast reconstruction (BR), health care professionals do not consistently integrate it as an option in the treatment of breast cancer patients. Interprofessional collaboration (IPC) amongst professionals may facilitate the elaboration of comprehensive oncological treatment plans. As the application of IPC in the delivery of BR has not yet been studied, we undertook a qualitative study to explore the perceptions of physicians and administrators on IPC in breast cancer care and how these impact BR delivery.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 30 participants (22 physicians and 8 administrators). Physician interviews focused on their personal beliefs and values regarding BR, while administrator interviews explored their institutional treatment regimens as well as the availability of a BR program. Our thematic analysis was informed by the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative (CIHC) competency framework.

Results: IPC challenges were thought by participants to affect the delivery of BR. At the physician level, a lack of role clarity as well as the absence of an explicitly established leader negatively influence collaboration in BR delivery. In addition, varying views on the usefulness of BR and on the role of plastic surgeons in breast oncological teams discourage positive collaboration, rendering the delivery of BR more difficult.

Conclusions: The delivery of BR is overall impaired due to a lack of effective IPC. IPC could be improved through clarifying physician roles, establishing clear leadership, and aligning viewpoints on quality oncological care in collaborative teams; ultimately, this may promote equitable BR delivery for breast cancer patients.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Canada
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Mammaplasty*
  • Patient Care Team