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Of 164 young principal groups identified, 107 replied to a questionnaire asking for details of the groups and their activities. Eighty one per cent of the groups had been in existence for less than five years and 57% gave continuing medical education as one of the reasons for forming the group. The majority of groups were run informally and 55% had social meetings to which spouses were invited. The groups varied in size from six to 50 members and members' surgeries were the most popular meeting place. Clinical topics proved the most successful and group discussion was the preferred form of meeting. Groups formed for less than three years were less likely to have meetings with specialists than groups formed for three years or more and were more likely to have discussions about personal/partnership problems. Although 67% of the groups had sought outside help at some time 78% did not need any help at present.
These self-help groups appear to be self-sufficient and to be meeting the continuing education and personal/social needs of young principals.