Document Type : Original Article



INTRODUCTION: The Balint group’s seminars were developed by Michael and Enid Balint for the
purpose of a better understanding of doctor–patient relationships. This study aimed to introduce
the Balint group and its application to the medical science educational program and to provide an
up‑to‑date perspective on Balint group research.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was carried out as a systematic literature search published
from January 2008 to September 2018 in the databases of PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, and
Proquest, which were searched with keywords such as the Balint group and medical education
along with numerous related terms. Duplicates, non‑English language articles were discarded from
the review.
RESULTS: A total of nine papers entered the study. Among included articles, four used a qualitative
methodology, four used a quantitative methodology, and one applied a mixed methodology. Four main
aims emerged from the content of papers: (1) to evaluate resident and medical student experiences
in Balint groups, (2) to improve communication skills and reduce burnout level, (3) to assess the
Balint group’s effects on empathy, and (4) to explore the contexts and triggers of cases presented
in Balint groups.
CONCLUSION: Our results help us to the achievement of a better planning and design of an efficient
Balint group in medical education. The findings enable the policymakers to make better decisions
on the topic. Balint groups may guide medical students (residents) to become more patient centered
by improving their communication skills and empathic abilities and reducing the level of burnout.


1. Horder J. The first balint group. Br J Gen Pract 2001;51:1038‑9.
2. Kjeldmand D. The Doctor, the Task and the Group: Balint
Groups as a Means of Developing New Understanding in the
Physician‑Patient Relationship. Uppsala,Acta Universitatis
Upsaliensis; 2006.
3. Stelcer B. Role of Balint group in hospice practice. Prog Health
Sci 2011;1:171‑4.
4. Salinsky J. How would you like your Balint? J Balint Soc
5. Lustig M. Balint groups – An australian perspective. Aust Fam
Physician 2006;35:639‑42, 652.
6. Van Roy K, Vanheule S, Inslegers R. Research on balint groups:
A literature review. Patient Educ Couns 2015;98:685‑94.
7. Olds J, Malone J. The implementation and evaluation of a trial
balint group for clinical medical students. J Balint Soc 2016;44:31‑9.
8. Torppa MA, Makkonen E, Mårtenson C, Pitkälä KH. A qualitative
analysis of student balint groups in medical education: Contexts
and triggers of case presentations and discussion themes. Patient
Educ Couns 2008;72:5‑11.
9. Kjeldmand D, Holmström I, Rosenqvist U. Balint training
makes GPs thrive better in their job. Patient Educ Couns
10. BotelhoR, McDaniel S, Jones J. Using a family systems approach in
a balint‑style group: an innovative course for continuing medical
education. Fam Med 1990;22:293‑5.
11. Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Mulrow C, Gøtzsche PC,
Ioannidis JP, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic
reviews and meta‑analyses of studies that evaluate health
care interventions: Explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med
12. Graham S, Gask L, Swift G, Evans M. Balint‑style case discussion
groups in psychiatric training: An evaluation. Acad Psychiatry
13. Yakeley J, Shoenberg P, Morris R, Sturgeon D, Majid S.
Psychodynamic approaches to teaching medical students about
the doctor – Patient relationship: randomised controlled trial.
Psychiatrist 2011;35:308‑13.
14. Bar‑Sela G, Lulav‑Grinwald D, Mitnik I. “Balint group”
meetings for oncology residents as a tool to improve therapeutic
communication skills and reduce burnout level. J Cancer Educ
15. Parker S, Leggett A. Teaching the clinical encounter in psychiatry:
A trial of balint groups for medical students. Australas Psychiatry
16. Airagnes G, Consoli SM, De Morlhon O, Galliot AM, Lemogne C,
Jaury P, et al. Appropriate training based on balint groups can
improve the empathic abilities of medical students: A preliminary
study. J Psychosom Res 2014;76:426‑9.
17. Parker SD, Leggett A. Reflecting on our practice: An evaluation
of balint groups for medical students in psychiatry. Australas
Psychiatry 2014;22:190‑4.
18. O’Neill S, Foster K, Gilbert‑Obrart A. The Balint group experience
for medical students: a pilot project. Psychoanal Psychother
19. Player M, Freedy JR, Diaz V, Brock C, Chessman A, Thiedke C,
et al. The role of balint group training in the professional and
personal development of family medicine residents. Int J
Psychiatry Med 2018;53:24‑38.
20. Kulenović M, Blazeković‑Milaković S. Balint groups as a driving
force of ego development. Coll Antropol 2000;24 Suppl 1:103‑8.