Skip main navigation

Chunk and check

This article discusses chunk-and-check, which can also be used to promote patient understanding.
Doctor and patient communicating
© IMPACCT consortium

Teach-back is often combined with other approaches, such as encouraging patients to ask questions and using plain language. Another technique is known as chunk-and-check, which can also be used to promote patient understanding.

In conversations with patients there is often a lot to be discussed and people can struggle to understand and remember a long list of things they are being asked to take in or do. Often this overload of information is presented all at once at the end of the conversation.

With the chunk-and-check technique, you break down the information into smaller, more manageable chunks. In between each ‘chunk’ use methods, such as teach-back, to ‘check’ for understanding before moving on. This may result in more questions from the patient’s side during the conversation, instead of holding them all until the end.

The practice-based idea behind chunk-and-check is that providing a lot of information can be overwhelming. If it is presented in chunks then it is easier to take on board, understand and remember. This idea that patients can be overwhelmed by too much information is supported in research on patient perspectives (Jager et al.2019).


Jager, M., de Zeeuw, J., Tullius, J., Papa, R., Giammarchi, C., Whittal, A., & de Winter, A. F. (2019). Patient Perspectives to Inform a Health Literacy Educational Program: A Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis of Qualitative Studies. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(21), 4300.

© IMPACCT consortium
This article is from the free online

Working with Patients with Limited Health Literacy

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education