Collaborative, interprofessional nutritional care within head and neck cancer teams: an international multi-site qualitative study

Publication Name

Journal of Interprofessional Care


Evidence-based guidelines (EBGs) for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) recommend that nutritional care is delivered by an interprofessional team inclusive of dietitians, doctors, nurses, and speech pathologists. Barriers to collaboration exist within interprofessional teams. However, research on this is currently lacking in the HNC setting, particularly with regard to the provision of nutritional care. This study aimed to explore what facilitates collaborative nutritional care for patients with HNC from the perspectives of different healthcare professionals. This qualitative study used a grounded theory approach. Healthcare professionals from two radiotherapy departments in the United States and two in Australia were interviewed. Forty-six interviews were completed with 17 radiation-oncologists, 12 nurses, eleven dietitians, and 6 speech-pathologists. Collaborative nutritional care for patients with HNC was underpinned by three categories and six sub-categories: access to dietitians (facilitated by funding for dietitians and the strength of evidence), communication (facilitated by team meetings, communication systems, and multidisciplinary clinics), and role-clarity (facilitated by non-clinical activities and respect). This study highlights opportunities for enhancing collaborative nutritional care within HNC teams. Further studies on the impact of the dietitian, interprofessional education, team meetings, and multidisciplinary clinics are required to promote collaborative nutritional care for HNC patients.

Open Access Status

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