Multidisciplinary Team Care Arrangements in the management of patients with chronic disease in Australian general practice

Mark F Harris, Upali W Jayasinghe, Jane R Taggart, Bettina Christl, Judith G Proudfoot, Patrick A Crookes, Justin J Beilby and Gawaine Powell Davies
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (5): 236-239.


Objective: To explore factors associated with the frequency of multidisciplinary Team Care Arrangements (TCAs) and the impact of TCAs on patient-assessed quality of care in Australian general practice.

Design and setting: Data were collected as part of a cluster randomised controlled trial conducted in 60 general practices in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria between July 2006 and June 2008. Multilevel logistic regression analysis evaluated factors associated with the frequency of TCAs recorded in the 12 months after baseline, and multilevel multivariable analysis examined the association between TCAs and patient-assessed quality of chronic illness care, adjusted for patient and practice characteristics.

Main outcome measures: Frequency of TCAs; Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (PACIC) scores.

Results: Of 1752 patients with clinical audit data available at 12-month follow-up, 398 (22.7%) had a TCA put in place since baseline. Women, patients with two or more chronic conditions, and patients from metropolitan areas had an increased probability of having a TCA. There was an association between TCAs and practices with solo general practitioners and those with greater levels of teamwork involving non-GP staff for the control group but not the intervention group. Patients who had a TCA self-assessed their quality of care (measured by PACIC scores) to be higher than those who did not.

Conclusions: Findings were consistent with the purpose of TCAs — to provide multidisciplinary care for patients with longer-term complex conditions. Significant barriers to TCA use remain, especially in rural areas and for men, and these may be more challenging to overcome in larger practices.

  • Mark F Harris1
  • Upali W Jayasinghe1
  • Jane R Taggart1
  • Bettina Christl1
  • Judith G Proudfoot2
  • Patrick A Crookes3
  • Justin J Beilby4
  • Gawaine Powell Davies1

  • 1 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Black Dog Institute, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Faculty of Health Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW.
  • 4 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.



We would like to acknowledge the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for funding this project through a research grant, and the participating practices and Divisions of General Practice. Judith Proudfoot is grateful to the NHMRC (program grant 510135) for salary support. This article is presented on behalf of the “Teamwork” project research team.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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