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Fam Pract. 2014 Dec;31(6):733-8. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmu065. Epub 2014 Oct 15.

Balint seminars: the transatlantic experience through videoconference.

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Family Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon and.
Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
Family Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon and



The Balint seminar is used in many family medicine residencies to improve and strengthen the patient-doctor relationship: to make better doctors. Given the lack of Balint leaders in developing countries, the family medicine department at the American University of Beirut (AUB) decided to collaborate with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)-with more than 30 years of experience-to start Balint seminars through videoconferencing.


Evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of Balint seminars conducted through videoconference.


A qualitative research using focus group and leaders' feedback to evaluate feasibility of delivery of Balint seminars through videoconference. A Polycom videoconference was set up between residents at AUB and two credentialed Balint leaders at MUSC. The videoconference was composed of two parts: (i) MUSC faculty facilitating Balint seminars; and (ii) MUSC and AUB faculty debriefing following each Balint session.


Twenty-six videoconferences were conducted from 15 February 2013 to 31 March 2014. Four themes emerged: technology and connectivity issues, administrative issues, coordination among different time zones and cultural/contextual issues. The videoconferencing with family medicine residents at AUB seemed quite natural and very familiar to the Balint leaders at MUSC. The seminars encouraged the residents to see things from the patients' perspective, inspiring new thoughts and ideas on how to deal with troubling patients.


Videoconference Balint seminars offer a promising way to extend the activity to health care providers in other disciplines, states and countries. Moreover, this format has the potential to increase the number of trained Balint leaders.


Balint psychoanalytic therapy; family practice; physician–patient relations; videoconferencing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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