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Using peer observers to assess the quality of cancer multidisciplinary team meetings: a qualitative proof of concept study

Authors Harris J, Green J, Sevdalis N, Taylor C

Received 29 March 2014

Accepted for publication 29 April 2014

Published 11 August 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 355—363


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Jenny Harris,1 James SA Green,2,3 Nick Sevdalis,4 Cath Taylor1

1Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College London, London, UK; 2Department of Urology, Whipps Cross University Hospital, London, UK; 3Department of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University, London, UK; 4Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK

Background: Multidisciplinary team (MDT) working is well established as the foundation for providing cancer services in the UK and elsewhere. A core activity is the weekly meeting (or case conference/tumor boards) where the treatment recommendations for individual patients are agreed. Evidence suggests that the quality of team working varies across cancer teams, and this may impact negatively on the decision-making process, and ultimately patient care. Feedback on performance by expert observers may improve performance, but can be resource-intensive to implement. This proof of concept study sought to: develop a structured observational assessment tool for use by peers (managers or clinicians from the local workforce) and explore its usability; assess the feasibility of the principle of observational assessment by peers; and explore the views of MDT members and observers about the utility of feedback from observational assessment.
Methods: For tool development, the content was informed by national clinical consensus recommendations for best practice in cancer MDTs and developed in collaboration with an expert steering group. It consisted of ten subdomains of team working observable in MDT meetings that were rated on a 10-point scale (very poor to very good). For observational assessment, a total of 19 peer observers used the tool (assessing performance in 20 cancer teams from four hospitals). For evaluation, telephone interviews with 64 team members and all peer observers were analyzed thematically.
Results: The tool was easy to use and areas for refinement were identified. Peer observers were identified and most indicated that undertaking observation was feasible. MDT members generally reported that observational assessment and feedback was useful, with the potential to facilitate improvements in team working.
Conclusion: This study suggests that observation and feedback by peers may provide a feasible and acceptable approach to enhance MDT performance. Further tool refinement and validation is required.

Keywords: cancer, multidisciplinary team, team working, observational assessment

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