Research on Balint groups: A literature review

Patient Educ Couns. 2015 Jun;98(6):685-94. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2015.01.014. Epub 2015 Jan 27.


Objective: As the scientific literature on Balint groups (BGs) is scattered, this paper provides an overview of the literature on BGs published in peer-reviewed journals. Study characteristics are analyzed and the principal research topics are discussed.

Methods: 'Web of Science' and 'Pubmed' databases were searched and all English-language studies on BGs (empirical and non-empirical) were included.

Results: Of the 94 articles included, 35 are empirical studies adopting a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methodology. The research topics that emerged include outcome, characteristics of BG participants, themes addressed in BGs, BG processes, leadership and BG evaluations. The remaining articles were classified as historical articles, reports and reflective articles, for which the main discussion themes are presented.

Conclusion: Research on BGs proves to be diverse, scarce and often methodologically weak. However, indications of the value of BG work were found. Therefore, further research is strongly indicated.

Practice implications: Points of interest that could to be further considered by BG workers and researchers are for instance long-term BG participation and 'modified Balint groups'. Recommendations for future research on BGs are provided.

Keywords: Balint; Balint group; Literature review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication
  • General Practice
  • General Practitioners*
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Professional Competence*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Research