Exploring Determinants of Interdisciplinary Collaboration within a Geriatric Oncology Setting: A Mixed-Method Study


by Marion Barrault-Couchouron, Noemi Micheli, and Pierre Soubeyran


Collaboration between oncologists and geriatricians has been shown to improve the quality of elderly cancer patient care. However, previous research has revealed how interpersonal factors might hinder this interdisciplinary work. This study aims to assess sprocessual and contextual determinants of the collaboration between these two disciplines, including shared time and routines, medical decision criteria and perceptions of age and needs of elderly patients. These aspects are important to develop a more efficient patient-centered approach in oncogeriatric care and improve collaboration between the different disciplines involved.
Therapeutic challenges regarding the population of elderly cancer patients and their heterogeneity lead to the need to implement person-centered approaches in order to optimize care strategies and adapt oncology treatments to each pattern of aging. The International Society of Geriatric Oncology recommends a multidisciplinary evaluation of these patients and the use of screening tools prior to the initiation of treatments. However, previous research shows a poor implementation of these recommendations in geriatric oncology. Although some studies have identified how different perceptions of geriatric oncology might hinder routine teamwork, little is known about the impact of other factors on promoting the collaboration between the two specialties. This mixed-method exploratory study used an online questionnaire to assess the perception of a group of 22 geriatricians and oncology physicians on different determinants of oncology care and teamwork. In this sample, older oncology patients benefited from geriatric care. However, there was a variability regarding age criteria and a limited use of screening tools. The multidimensional framework for interprofessional teamwork by Reeves has been used to analyze some of the determinants of the collaboration between oncology physicians and geriatricians. This study has identified systematic issues to consider when promoting communication and common values between the two disciplines, including available resources in terms of shared time, space and routine actions.