Teach Back: A Tool to Ensure Patient Understanding

Studies have shown that 40-80 % of the medical information patients receive is forgotten immediately and nearly half of the information retained is incorrect.

One of the easiest ways to close the gap of communication between clinician and patient is to employ the “teach-back” method, also known as the “show-me” method or “closing the loop.”  Teach-back is a way to confirm that you have explained to the patient what they need to know in a manner that the patient understands. Patient understanding is confirmed when they explain it back to you. It can also help the clinic staff members identify explanations and communication strategies that are most commonly understood by patients. 

Testimonial: “I decided to do teach-back on five patients. With one mother and her child, I concluded the visit by saying ‘So tell me what you are going to do when you get home.’ The mother just looked at me without a reply. She could not tell me what instructions I had just given her. I explained the instructions again and then she was able to teach them back to me. The most amazing thing about this “ah ha” moment was that I had no idea she did not understand until I asked her to teach it back to me. I was so wrapped up in delivering the message that I did not realize that it wasn’t being received.”                       
-Resident physician, pediatric office

  • Accreditation Statement:  The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. 
  • Conflict of Interest:  It is the policy of The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing to require our continuing nursing education program faculty and planning committee members to disclose any financial relationships with companies providing program funding or manufacturers of any commercial products discussed in the program.  The planning committee and program faculty report that they do not have financial relationships with manufacturers of any commercial products they discuss in the program. 
  • Commercial Support:  This educational activity has not received any form of commercial support. The interventions noted as part of the care coordination initiative were partially funded by a CMMI grant. 
  • Non-Endorsement of Products:  The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing and the American Nurses Credentialing Center does not endorse the use of any commercial products discussed or displayed in conjunction with this educational activity.

Target Audience

All clinicians who are responsible for patient education in any setting.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the impact of health literacy on patient care.
  2. Describe the Teach Back process.
  3. Identify Teach Back techniques.
Additional information
Contact email: 
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 0.50 ANCC
  • 0.50 Attendance
Registration opens: 
Registration closes: 

Nancy Sullivan, RN, DNP

Care Coordination Initiative
Johns Hopkins Health System

Available Credit

  • 0.50 ANCC
  • 0.50 Attendance


Please login or register to take this course.