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Spotlight on Applied Research

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Multidisciplinary Cancer Care in the United States

Multidisciplinary cancer care is a developing area of care delivery research within the NCI's Outcomes Research Branch (ORB). This care delivery paradigm is widely implemented in oncology care settings to assure quality cancer care, and involves leveraging the expertise of clinicians from various disciplines to enable complex treatment decision-making and appropriate and timely care for the patient. The multidisciplinary cancer care paradigm encompasses collaborative and coordinated teams, treatment planning and care management, positive patient and family engagement and experience, and continuity of care. Within care delivery settings, multidisciplinary cancer care operates at the organizational, provider, and patient levels.

A variety of implementation models for multidisciplinary cancer care currently exist within the health care system. However, to date, limited research exists that describes these various models across settings and cancer types, evaluates how they are organized and implemented, or examines how they may vary by environmental context and by characteristics of the clinical specialties represented on the multidisciplinary cancer care teams. Further, the impact of multidisciplinary cancer care on improving patient outcomes and on the quality of care delivery is not well understood.

As the first step in facilitating multidisciplinary cancer care research, the NCI developed the Multidisciplinary Treatment Planning (MTP) questionnaire to assess MTP within cancer care settings. Multidisciplinary Treatment Planning involves combining expertise and evidence from the different disciplines by convening clinicians, creating consensus-based treatment recommendations or plans, and communicating with the patient, family, and primary care physician. Questionnaire items include MTP structure and support, case presentation, clinical trials, patient engagement, compensation, and incentives. The instrument is designed to gather data that reveal MTP structures and processes in a cancer care organization for one type of cancer.

The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC)External Web Site Policy was the first organization to use this questionnaire to understand MTP within CoC-accredited hospitals. The results from this survey are being analyzed and several manuscripts, in collaboration with the CoC, are underway to report the overall survey findings and describe patient engagement and the involvement of primary care provider in the MTP context. These manuscripts will provide a baseline characterization of MTP across different cancer programs in the United States. The questionnaire is available for use by organizations and individual researchers.

For more information regarding the questionnaire, please contact Dr. Irene Prabhu Das in ARP's Outcomes Research Branch. To learn more and to view the questionnaire, please visit the Web site.

Last Modified: 30 Jun 2014