Clinical Study

BJC Open article

British Journal of Cancer (2005) 93, 1092–1097. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602816
Published online 18 October 2005

The informational roles and psychological health of members of 10 oncology multidisciplinary teams in the UK

S Catt1, L Fallowfield1, V Jenkins1, C Langridge1 and A Cox1

1Cancer Research UK, Psychosocial Oncology Group, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK

Correspondence: Dr S Catt, E-mail:

Received 13 July 2005; Revised 15 September 2005; Accepted 16 September 2005
Advance online publication 18 October 2005



We report here the different roles undertaken by the members of 10 multidisciplinary cancer teams in conveying information to patients during their care. Team members completed an Informational Roles Questionnaire measuring an individual's perception of their major role and that of their colleagues in giving information to patients. They also completed two standard psychological health measures, the General Health Questionnaire and Maslach Burnout Inventory. The information giving roles of the surgeon, oncologist, radiologist and clinical nurse specialist were well recognised by their colleagues; however, other team members' roles were more ambiguous and less well understood. The clinical nurse specialist provided the broadest information coverage for patients. Few professional groups regularly informed patients about clinical trials and family history and the clinical nurse specialist was often the only person to deal with patients' sexual well being, consequently these areas are likely to receive poor coverage. Probable psychiatric morbidity (GHQgreater than or equal to4) in teams ranged from 5 to 27%. High levels of emotional exhaustion were particularly apparent in team leaders and nurses and feelings of low levels of personal accomplishment were prevalent in the histopathologists and radiologists. Putative benefits to patients and healthcare professionals from multidisciplinary team working may not be realised without investment in team training.


multidisciplinary teams; psychological well being; burnout