Multidisciplinary team meetings in palliative care: an ethnographic study

Borgstrom, Erica; Cohn, Simon; Driessen, Annelieke; Martin, Jonathan and Yardley, Sarah (2021). Multidisciplinary team meetings in palliative care: an ethnographic study. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care (Early Access).



Objectives Multidisciplinary team meetings are a regular feature in the provision of palliative care, involving a range of professionals. Yet, their purpose and best format are not necessarily well understood or documented. This article describes how hospital and community-based palliative care multidisciplinary team meetings operate to elucidate some of their main values and offer an opportunity to share examples of good practice.

Methods Ethnographic observations of over 70 multidisciplinary team meetings between May 2018 and January 2020 in hospital and community palliative care settings in intercity London. These observations were part of a larger study examining palliative care processes. Fieldnotes were thematically analysed.

Results This article analyses how the meetings operated in terms of their setup, participants and general order of business. Meetings provided a space where patients, families and professionals could be cared for through regular discussions of service provision.

Conclusions Meetings served a variety of functions. Alongside discussing the more technical, clinical and practical aspects that are formally recognised aspects of the meetings, an additional core value was enabling affectual aspects of dealing with people who are dying to be acknowledged and processed collectively. Insight into how the meetings are structured and operate offer input for future practice.

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