Nurse and patient conversation

There are many factors that affect retention of health information with a wide range of results, but overall studies indicate that only about 50% of information provided by healthcare providers is retained. Depending on conditions, 40 – 80% can be forgotten immediately.¹

Regardless of a patient’s ability to read, it is important that healthcare professionals ensure that patients understand the information they have been given. The teach-back method is an evidenced-based strategy to assess a patient’s understanding by asking patients to state in their own words what they need to know or do about their health. It is a way to confirm that information has been explained in a manner patients understand.

Sally May, RN, BSN,  Great Plains QIN Senior Quality Improvement Specialist; Lisa Thorp, RN, CDE, Great Plains QIN Quality Improvement Specialist; and Kelli Sheeley, RN, Admission Coordinator, Essentia Health, Fargo, ND, collaborated to provide a 3.5 hour teach-back training to nursing instructors and all-level nursing students at Rasmussen College of Nursing in Fargo, ND. (Essentia Health staff had previously received teach-back training from Great Plains QIN staff with extensive implementation of teach-back across hospital departments .)

The training included the need for teach-back (i.e., the ineffectiveness of traditional patient education methods), review of the key principles of teach-back, implementation strategies, and practice using both plain language and teach-back.

Erica Evans, Rasmussen College School of Nursing Instructor, stated, “Teach-back education has been valuable when addressing patient education in several of our courses as both a nursing intervention and an evaluation process in noting the degree of patient understanding on an education topic. We discuss different learning styles, and how we can incorporate these styles into teach-back. An example is showing the kinesthetic learner how to inject insulin and then allowing the learner to inject himself with insulin with the nurse’s supervision. We have also been using teach-back in the simulation lab for teaching our students. We will often do a ‘pre-brief’ and review of content, then observe the student ‘teaching back’ to the mannequin or ‘actor’ in the simulation lab.”

Nursing students were queried regarding the appropriate time to incorporate teach-back in the nursing curriculum. Sixty-eight percent of students indicated that teach-back training early in the nursing curriculum would be the most valuable. One student commented, earlier training would provide “the opportunity to use teach-back during clinicals.”

Source: J R Soc Med. 2003 May; 96(5): 219–222.

A teach-back training module is available on the Great Plains QIN website; complete with tools and resources.  For more information, contact Sally May, RN, BSN, Great Plains QIN Senior Quality Improvement Specialist.