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Difficulties in Balint groups: a qualitative study of leaders’ experiences
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research.
2010 (English)In: British Journal of General Practice, ISSN 0960-1643, E-ISSN 1478-5242, Vol. 60, no 580, 808-814 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

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.

Aim

To examine difficulties in BGs as experienced by BG leaders.

Design of study

Qualitative study using interviews.

Setting

Eight BG leaders from five countries were interviewed.

Method

The interviews focused on the informants' experiences of difficulties in their groups and were analysed with a systematic text-condensation method.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.
Keyword [en]
Balint groups; complex systems theory; education, medical, continuing; family practice; group process; qualitative research
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-133888DOI: 10.3399/bjgp10X532585ISI: 000284131400007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-133888DiVA: diva2:370606
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 522-2005-7461
Available from: 2010-11-17 Created: 2010-11-17 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Kjeldmand, DorteHolmström, Inger

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