Skip to main content

Research on Balint Groups

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Clinical Uncertainty in Primary Care


In Chapter 5, Dorte Kjeldmand, Henry Jablonski, and John Salinsky pose the question, ‘Do doctors and their patients benefit from conversations in small groups about clinical cases?’ They explore this question from the perspective of their long history of working with Balint groups, aware of the requirement of both being objective and simultaneously providing insights based on their experience. They discuss Michael Balint’s original concept of Balint groups as a form of research as well as his ‘A Study of Doctors’. A review of recent Balint research is presented in addition to Kjeldmand’s own research entitled, ‘The Doctor, the Task, and the Group’. The authors discuss challenges in doing research on Balint groups. They identify specific difficulties, pointing out key issues that all researchers need to consider in exploring the impact of collaborative engagement of uncertainty, whatever specific small group approach is used, on clinician practice and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Arrow, H., McGrath, J., & Berdahl, J. (2000). Small groups as complex systems. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Balint, M. (1964). The doctor, his patient and the illness (2nd ed.). London: Pitman Medical.

    Google Scholar 

  • Balint, E., & Norell, J. S. (Eds.). (1973). Six minutes for the patient: Interactions in general practice consultations. London: Tavistock Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Balint, M., Balint, E., Gosling, R., et al. (1966). A study of doctors. London: Tavistock Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Balint, E., Courtenay, M., Elder, E., et al. (1993). The doctor, the patient and the Balint group revisited. London/New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cataldo, K. P., Peeden, K., Geesey, M. E., et al. (2005). Association between Balint training and physician empathy and work satisfaction. Family Medicine, 37(5), 328–31.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Elder, A., & Samuel, O. (Eds.). (1987). While I’m here, doctor. London: Tavistock/Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Girard, R. (1986). The scapegoat. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hubble, M. A., Duncan, B. L., & Miller, S. D. (Eds.). (1999). The heart and soul of change: What works in psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huygen, F. J. A., et al. (1992). Relationship between the working styles of general practitioners and the health status of their patients. The British Journal of General Practice: The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 42, 141–144.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, A. H., Brock, C. D., & Hueston, W. J. (2003). Resident physicians who continue Balint training: A longitudinal study 1982–1999. Family Medicine, 35(6), 428–433.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, A. H., Nease, D. E., Jr., Milberg, L. C., et al. (2004). Essential characteristics of effective Balint group leadership. Family Medicine, 36(4), 253–259.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kjeldmand, D. (2006). Thesis: The doctor, the task and the group, Balint groups as a means of developing new understanding in the physician-patient relationship. Department of Public Health and Caring Science, Section of Health Services Research, Uppsala University, Sweden.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kjeldmand, D., & Holmström, I. (2008). Balint groups for general practitioners – A qualitative study. A means to increase job satisfaction and prevent burnout? Annals of Family Medicine, 6, 138–145.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kjeldmand, D., & Holmström, I. (2010). Difficulties in Balint groups: A qualitative study of leaders’ experiences. The British Journal of General Practice: The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 60, 808–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kjeldmand, D., Holmström, I., & Rosenqvist, U. (2004). Balint training makes GPs thrive better in their job. Patient Education and Counseling, 55, 230–35.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Malterud, K. (2001). Qualitative research: Standards, challenges, and guidelines. Lancet, 358, 483–488.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Margalit, A., Glick, S., Benbassat, J., et al. (2005). Promoting a biopsychosocial orientation in family practice: Effect of two teaching programs on the knowledge and attitudes of practicing primary care physicians. Medical Techcher (Stuttgart), 27, 613–618.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Merenstein, J. H., & Chillag, K. (1999). Balint seminar leaders: What do they do? Family Medicine, 31, 182–186.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Musham, C., & Brock, C. D. (1994). Family practice residents’ perspective on Balint group training: In-depth interviews with frequent and infrequent attenders. Family Medicine, 26, 382–386.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pinder, R., McKee, A., Sackin, P., et al. (2006). Talking about my patient: The Balint approach in GP education. Occasional Paper, Royal College of General Practitioners, 87, 1–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Risör T. (2010). Why don’t we take a look at the patient? An anthropological analysis of how doctors become doctors. Ph.D. dissertation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Salinsky, J., & Sackin, P. (2000). What are you feeling, doctor? Abingdon: Radcliffe Medical Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Torppa, M. A., Makkonen, E., Mårtenson, C., et al. (2008). A qualitative analysis of student Balint groups in medical education: Contexts and triggers of case presentations and discussion themes. Patient Education and Counseling, 72, 5–11.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Turner, A. L., & Malm, R. L. (2004). A preliminary investigation of Balint and non-Balint behavioural medicine training. Family Medicine, 36, 114–7.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dorte Kjeldmand .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Kjeldmand, D., Jablonski, H., Salinsky, J. (2013). Research on Balint Groups. In: Sommers, L., Launer, J. (eds) Clinical Uncertainty in Primary Care. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4614-6811-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4614-6812-7

  • eBook Packages: MedicineMedicine (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics