What Is Teach-Back?


Teach-back is a way to check for understanding. It comes out of the health literacy work. There’s a couple of different ways to do
teach-back, but the important thing is to make sure that the responsibility for communicating
clearly is firmly on the clinician, and that it’s not a test of understanding on the
patient or the client. An example of how to ask a teach-back question
is to say something like, “We’ve been talking about quite a few different things,
and I’ve given you some instructions about how to take this medication. Would you mind saying it back to me so that
I know that I was clear?” So it’s “if I was clear.” Another way to ask it is to really get a broader
view of what they thought of the entire visit, if in an appointment type situation, so you
might say something like, “After you leave this visit, I know that your wife’s going
to ask you what happened today. What are you going to tell her?” Then you can find out a little bit more about
what they understood and also what they thought was important out of the visit. Of course if you’re demonstrating something,
like using an inhaler, it’s the same kind of a thing, only it’s “show me.” “Would you please show me how you’re going
to use your inhaler, so I know if I was able to make it clear?” That’s basically what teach-back is all
about.