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
All clinicians who are responsible for patient education in any setting.
- Describe the impact of health literacy on patient care.
- Describe the Teach Back process.
- Identify Teach Back techniques.
Nancy Sullivan, RN, DNP
Care Coordination Initiative
Johns Hopkins Health System
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