How effective and acceptable is Web 2.0 Balint group participation for general practitioners and general practitioner registrars in regional Australia? A pilot study
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Objective: General practitioners (GPs) and general practice registrars report work-related stress. Balint groups may improve coping mechanisms. However, attendance at a face-to-face Balint group is difficult for rural doctors due to distance constraints. The study aim was to evaluate online Balint groups for rural doctors and determine effect size for a full-scale trial. Design: A mixed-methods approach, including a pre–post controlled trial and thematic analysis of qualitative data. Setting: Rural primary care. Participants: Thirteen GPs and 8 general practice registrars completed the study. Interventions: Balint groups were delivered over 8–9 fortnightly online sessions. GPs and GP registrars participated in separate groups. Data were collected on work-related affect, psychological medicine skills and professional isolation using the Warr's Work-Related Affect Scale, the Psychological Medicine Inventory, and a professional isolation scale. Main outcome measures: Change scores on Warr's Work-Related Affect Scale, the Psychological Medicine Inventory, and a professional isolation scale. Results: Balint participants' scores were significantly higher post-intervention on the Psychological Medicine Inventory (mean 6.49 (±0.20) versus 5.43 (±0.26); P < 0.01) and Warr's Work-Related Affect (mean 4.09 (±0.09) versus 3.60 (±0.12); P < 0.01) scales than control group scores. Effect size on these scales ranged from 0.46 to 0.50. The greatest challenge was technical problems related to insufficient broadband speed. Conclusions: Online Balint groups appear to improve rural doctors' psychological medicine skills and work-related affect. New data on effect size will inform a full-scale trial. Improved national broadband infrastructure may enhance online support opportunities for rural doctors.
Australian Journal of Rural Health
© 2016 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health published by Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd. on behalf of National Rural Health Alliance. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified