Reflecting on our practice: an evaluation of Balint groups for medical students in psychiatry
Objective: This paper qualitatively evaluates a one-year trial of Balint clinical reflection groups for medical students in psychiatry at a large Australian tertiary referral hospital. The trial considered whether clinical reflection groups following the Balint process would be perceived as useful and relevant to the learning needs of the student participants. Method: A grounded theory approach was undertaken. This included survey data, thematic analysis of written feedback, and facilitator reflection on the process. Facilitators adapted the group process in response to participants' needs. These modifications included: increased education regarding the Balint process; the introduction of co-presenters; and the inclusion of a didactic summary following each session. Results: The evaluation suggested that fidelity of the Balint group experience was achieved and that student attitudes were neutral to mildly positive regarding the educational experience. Conclusions: Balint groups are potentially useful to medical students in the Australian context. We suggest that Balint groups may be more useful when applied in less alienating learning environments, such as during general practice rotations. Emphasis is placed on the need to maintain a dynamic approach by adapting the group and the educational processes as the work unfolds.
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified