IHI Open School Short
Video Transcript: What Is Teach-Back?

Connie Davis, NP, Co-Director of Centre for Collaboration, Motivation and Innovation

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.