Difficulties in Balint groups: a qualitative study of leaders’ experiences
2010 (English)In: British Journal of General Practice, ISSN 0960-1643, Vol. 60, no 580, 808-814 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Balint groups (BGs) are a means of enhancing competence in the physician-patient relationship and are also regarded as beneficial for GPs' mental health. However, voluntary BGs are still few, some members terminate their participation, and problems are reported in obligatory groups in residency programmes. This raises questions about possible negative aspects of BGs.
To examine difficulties in BGs as experienced by BG leaders.
Design of study
Qualitative study using interviews.
Eight BG leaders from five countries were interviewed.
The interviews focused on the informants' experiences of difficulties in their groups and were analysed with a systematic text-condensation method.
Three categories of difficulties emerged from the analysis: 1) the individual physician having needs, vulnerabilities, and defences; 2) the group (including the leader) having problems of hidden agendas, rivalries, and frames; and 3) the surrounding environment defining the conditions of the group. BGs were found to fit into modern theories of small groups as complex systems. They are submitted to group dynamics that are sometimes malicious, and are exposed to often tough environmental conditions.
Professionally conducted BGs seem to be a gentle, efficient method to train physicians, but with limitations. Participation of a member demands psychological stability and an open mind. BGs need support from the leadership of healthcare organisations in order to exist.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 60, no 580, 808-814 p.
Balint groups; complex systems theory; education, medical, continuing; family practice; group process; qualitative research
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-133888DOI: 10.3399/bjgp10X532585ISI: 000284131400007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-133888DiVA: diva2:370606
FunderSwedish Research Council, 522-2005-7461