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Health Communication | Health Psychology | Library and Information Science | Medical Education



This study analyzes how medical educators search literature, using as an example Balint Groups. Balint Group theory is rooted in psychiatry/psychoanalysis. Drawing from literature on medical educator’s search skills, the authors hypothesize that they have not used a systematic approach in their pre-intervention reviews. Instead, it is expected that researchers use literature conveniently found and readily available. Using a citation analysis, this hypothesis will be explored.


Balint Groups began in England in 1950s as a means of teaching students and residents “patient-centered” communication skills. In the U.S., it was first adopted in Family Medicine, then later in different specialties. Due to its international and cross-discipline scope, it is hypothesized that searching for existing literature on Balint Groups can pose a challenge to medical educators. In this study, an exhaustive literature review on Balint Groups will be conducted using the MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE and ERIC databases. 334 citations were retrieved. A validated inclusion criteria (Robinson et. al., 2011) will be used to select papers from this cohort of results. The authors will then create a comprehensive list of citations used by the selected papers. The analysis will focus on identifying and examining citation patterns to explore factors such as origin of publication and level of evidence of the most highly cited references.


In selecting citations, the authors excluded articles that were a) older than 2003, b) bibliographies only, c) opinion-based letters to the editor (with no citations), and d) meeting abstracts. 112 papers were selected. Citations from these papers were reviewed and Balint-specific citations were selected. The resulting list contained 314 citations, 283 from journal literature and 31 from books. References to primary Balint literature (e.g., books originally published by Michael & Enid Balint who defined Balint Group process) equaled just under 25% of the total citations. The top ten cited journal articles equaled 30% of the total citations. Of these top ten, five were published in the 2000’s, three in the 1990’s and two in the 1980’s. Psychiatry, primary care and doctor-patient relationships where the areas most widely studied using Balint Group practice.


The authors conclude that the hypothesis is correct. Of the 334 total citations retrieved in the initial search, the cited output equals approximately 30% of the available research on Balint Groups. Of this, only 6% is from the top primary resources (Balint-authored books) and top ten cited papers.


Balint Groups, Citation Analysis

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2014 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting


Poster presented at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, May 18, 2014, Chicago, IL.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.