Building an oncology community of practice to improve cancer care

W. Fingrut, L. A. Beck, D. Lo


Background Communities of practice (cops) have been shown to be effective models for achieving quality outcomes in health care.

Objective Here, we describe the application of the cop model to the Canadian oncology context.

Methods We established an oncology cop at our urban community hospital and its networks. Goals were to decrease barriers to access, foster collaboration, and improve knowledge of guidelines in cancer care. We hosted 6 in-person multidisciplinary meetings, focusing on screening, diagnosis, and management of common solid tumours. Health care providers affiliated with our hospital were invited to attend and to complete post-meeting surveys. Likert scales assessed whether cop goals were realized.

Results Meetings attracted a mean of 57 attendees (range: 48–65 attendees), with a mean of 84% completing the surveys and consenting to the analysis. Attendees included family physicians (mean: 41%), specialist physicians (mean: 24%), nurses (mean: 10%), and allied health care providers (mean: 22%). Repeat attendance increased during the series, with 85% of attendees at the final meeting having attended 1 or more prior meetings. Across the series, most participants agreed or strongly agreed that the cop reduced barriers (mean: 76.0% ± 7.9%) and improved access to cancer care services (mean: 82.4% ± 8.1%) and subject matter experts (mean: 91.7% ± 4.2%); fostered teamwork (mean: 84.5% ± 6.8%) and a culture of collaboration (mean: 94.8% ± 4.2%); improved knowledge of cancer care services (mean: 93.3% ± 4.8%), standards of practice (mean: 92.3% ± 3.1%), and quality indicators (mean: 77.5% ± 6.3%); and improved cancer-related practice (mean: 88.8% ± 4.6%) and satisfaction in caring for cancer patients (mean: 82.9% ± 6.8%). Participant feedback carried a potential for bias.

Conclusions We demonstrated the feasibility of oncology cops and found that participants perceived their value in reducing barriers to access, fostering collaboration, and improving knowledge of guidelines in cancer care.


Communities of practice; quality; collaboration; partnerships; knowledge management

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)