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Multidisciplinary cancer conferences: identifying opportunities to promote implementation


Background — Cancer care is complex and multimodal therapy is now considered the standard of care. Multidisciplinary cancer conferences (MCCs) offer a venue to prospectively discuss cancer patients and plan treatment. MCCs are believed to improve patient outcomes and consequently have been internationally adopted. The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of MCCs in Ontario and identify individual and organizational barriers to their adoption.

Methods — A cross-sectional, mailed questionnaire of general surgeons in Ontario, Canada who care for patients with cancer was used to assess prevalence, and organizational and individual barriers to MCC implementation. Responses were summarized overall, by hospital, and by academic status.

Results — The response rate was 44.2% (170/385). Respondents worked at 57 unique hospitals, of which 29 (52%) were reported to have MCCs, including all academic hospitals (7/7) and 22 of 50 (44%) community hospitals. Forty-nine MCCs were reported at 29 hospitals. MCCs occurred weekly at academic centers and biweekly or monthly at community hospitals. Few MCCs (28%) had a designated coordinator. Surgeons perceived that MCCs helped them to incorporate multidisciplinary opinions into their patient care plans, improved collegiality, and provided opportunity for continuing professional development.

Conclusions — Despite the perceived benefits expressed by respondents, administrative support for MCCs may be minimal. In particular, surgeons at community hospitals may have limited access to multidisciplinary patient care planning. This information will be utilized to shape a provincial strategy for implementing MCCs. However, further research is required to understand barriers and enablers to establish and maintain MCCs, especially in community practice.



Wright FC, Lookhong N, Urbach D, Davis D, McLeod RS, Gagliardi AR. Ann Surg Oncol. 2009; 16(10):2731-7. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

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