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The teach-back method

Teach back puts the responsibility on the health professional to check that they have explained the issues so that the patient understands.
Doctor in chair talking to patient sitting on hospital bed
© IMPACCT consortium

One way to address the problem identified in the previous step is a technique called Teach Back.

The idea behind teach-back is that if people do not understand what is being told them or asked of them, then they will not be fully informed and are unlikely to adhere to treatment such as medication. This has ethical implications if people are consenting to treatment when they don’t fully understand what the implications are, and it has health implications if they do not adhere to treatment.

Teach-back puts the responsibility on the health professional to check that, in a non-shaming way, they have explained the issues, so that the patient understands. If they have not, it gives the health professional an opportunity to explain it in a different way. The teach-back method is not about testing the patient’s knowledge, but rather how well the concept was explained by the professional. If anything, it is about testing the health professional’s ability in providing the information.

It would appear rational and logical that if you use teach-back as intended then it will facilitate patients understanding and they will adhere to treatment.

Just knowing what teach-back is and how it can help you may not be enough to actually apply this in practice. Therefore, please watch the video to find out how the teach-back method can be used in healthcare practice.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

If you want to know more about the teach-back method, you can visit The health literacy place. This provides a short description with links to a video describing what teach-back is.

© IMPACCT consortium
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Working with Patients with Limited Health Literacy

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