The current status of Balint groups in US family practice residencies: A 10-year follow-up study, 1990-2000

Fam Med. 2001 Oct;33(9):672-7.


Background and objectives: In 1990, the first and, to date, only objective study of Balint groups in US family practice residencies was conducted to measure their prevalence, composition, leadership, and function. The study reported here collected similar information about Balint groups.

Methods: Surveys were sent to all 464 US family practice residency program directors, with a 1-month follow-up to nonrespondents. The survey included questions about the existence, leadership, meeting frequency, and objectives of Balint training.

Results: A total of 298 (64%) residencies responded. Almost half (48%) of US responding residences reported conducting Balint groups, and 40% of those residencies have more than one group. The frequency of Balint group meetings has shifted in the past 10 years. In 1990, 55% of groups met weekly; in 2000, only 15% of groups met weekly. Sixty-five percent of residencies require Balint participation. One third of Balint groups are conducted without a coleader and the number of physicians leading groups is 22%, a decrease of 10% from 10 years ago. Forty-four percent of groups are led by psychologists, an increase of 19% from 10 years ago. Respondents indicated uncertainly about whether their groups were true Balint groups or simply resident support groups.

Conclusions: About half of US family practice residencies operate groups described as Balint groups. They meet less frequently then 10 years ago and are less likely to have a physician involved in group leadership. Some of the groups may actually be support groups rather than Balint groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Group Processes*
  • Group Structure
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Teaching / methods
  • United States