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How Can the Teach-Back Method Improve Outcomes?

Calvin Chou, MD; Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Demonstrate the teach-back method.
  • Explain why the teach-back method can be useful at the end of a patient visit.

Description: It’s the end of the visit, and you’ve just given your patient some specific instructions. Are you sure he or she understood every detail? One of the best ways to confirm and reinforce the patient’s understanding is through a simple method called “teach-back.” In a short video from The American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, Dr. Calvin Chou explains and demonstrates how to use teach-back with your patients to improve communication and outcomes.

For more information on improving health care communication skills, visit The American Academy on Communication in Healthcare (AACH). Video produced by Click to Play Media and AACH.

Discussion Questions1:

  1. Do you think the teach-back method is worth the extra time it requires in a patient visit? Why or why not?
  2. The video focuses on using teach-back to confirm patient understanding at the end of an appointment. Are there other times when asking a patient to teach back could be useful?
  3. Are there times when the patient could be the teacher, and the provider could teach-back?
  4. Do you ever use the teach-back method (during patient visits or even in another aspect of your life)? Share some of your experiences. 
  5. Practice teaching back with a partner: Give your partner some instructions, and see if he or she can repeat the instructions back to you. Then switch roles. Did the teach-back method help you communicate?
  6. Besides the teach-back method, what techniques do you or could you use to ensure understanding at the end of a patient visit?
1 Please keep patient privacy in mind.
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