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Barriers and enablers to the implementation of multidisciplinary team meetings: a qualitative study using the theoretical domains framework


Background Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines recommend discussion by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) to review and plan the management of patients for a variety of cancers. However, not all patients diagnosed with cancer are presented at an MDT.

Objectives (1) To identify the factors (barriers and enablers) influencing presentation of all patients to, and the perceived value of, MDT meetings in the management of patients with pancreatic cancer and; (2) to identify potential interventions that could overcome modifiable barriers and enhance enablers using the theoretical domains framework (TDF).

Methods Semistructured interviews were conducted with radiologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, palliative care specialists and nurse specialists based in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Interviews were conducted either in person or via videoconferencing. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, deidentified and data were thematically coded according to the 12 domains explored within the TDF. Common belief statements were generated to compare the variation between participant responses.

Results In total, 29 specialists were interviewed over a 4-month period. Twenty-two themes and 40 belief statements relevant to all the TDF domains were generated. Key enablers influencing MDT practices included a strong organisational focus (social/professional role and identity), beliefs about the benefits of an MDT discussion (beliefs about consequences), the use of technology, for example, videoconferencing (environmental context and resources), the motivation to provide good quality care (motivation and goals) and collegiality (social influences). Barriers included: absence of palliative care representation (skills), the number of MDT meetings (environmental context and resources), the cumulative cost of staff time (beliefs about consequences), the lack of capacity to discuss all patients within the allotted time (beliefs about capabilities) and reduced confidence to participate in discussions (social influences).

Conclusions The internal and external organisational structures surrounding MDT meetings ideally need to be strengthened with the development of agreed evidence-based protocols and referral pathways, a focus on resource allocation and capabilities, and a culture that fosters widespread collaboration for all stages of pancreatic cancer.

  • quality improvement
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • health services research
  • implementation science
  • patient-centred care

Data availability statement

All relevant data are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data were collected using a qualitative approach from healthcare practitioners and specialists. Further data can be made available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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