Teach Back: Make Sure They Understand

Kelly Pick, MSN, RN-BC NPD | Salon 1

Clinical Nurse Educator, Community Health Education, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center



Have you ever gotten that glazed look when talking with a patient, client or even your child? You ask if they understand, and they smile and nod, but you know they just don’t get it. In some situations, this merely results in frustration and a need for further dialog. In health care, the result can be deadly. Nearly half of American adults cannot fully participate in their health care due to low health literacy. Patients are often called “non-compliant, when in reality they just don’t know what to do. is supported by organizations such as the American Medical Association and the National Quality Forum as a top patient safety practice. Using Teach-Back with your patients will help you identify barriers so you can address them before they result in dangerous errors. Using Teach-Back can also improve patient satisfaction scores as patients become active participants in their care.

Having your listener teach back what you are trying to convey can be used in any situation: with your patients, clients, colleagues and even your own family. The Teach-Back technique is easy to learn, but there are a few subtle differences between non-shaming and shaming approaches that will make the difference between opening and closing the lines of communication. Come learn about the power of Teach-Back and practice the technique in this engaging and interactive session.


Learning objectives:

  • Explain how low health literacy affects health outcomes
  • Outline the key elements in effective Teach-Back
  • Demonstrate the Teach-Back technique in pairs or small groups



Improving communication