Original Research

Use and Effectiveness of the Teach-Back Method in Patient Education and Health Outcomes

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The common outcome measures used in the 26 studies fall into 5 categories: patient satisfaction; postdischarge readmission; patient perception of teach-back method effectiveness; disease knowledge and disease management improvements; and intervention effects on health-related quality of life (HR-QOL). A summary of included articles, study setting, design, outcomes, and details is available from the author.

Patient Satisfaction

Ten studies examined the impact of the teach-back method on patient satisfaction.15,17,19,21,23,26,27,29,31,32 Of these 10 studies, 6 explored the influence of the method on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey scores.15,17,19,21,22,26 All included studies indicated improved satisfaction with medication education, discharge information, and health management—except for the Silva study, who found an upward trend but not a statistically significant improvement in patient understanding of the purpose of a medication.23

Grice and colleagues also found that community-dwelling seniors expressed satisfaction with using the teach-back method while being evaluated and assessed for health services at home.32 Improvement or a positive trend in teach-back groups was reported in a majority of the studies except for those by Hyrkas and Wiggins, and Griffey and colleagues.27,29 Hyrkas and Wiggins found the method slightly improved patients’ medication confidence after hospital discharge, though patient satisfaction scores were associated with patient–nurse relationships, not with use of the teach-back method and a motivational interview.27 Similarly, Griffey and colleagues found that patients who had limited health literacy and received a standard discharge with teach-back scored higher on medication comprehension, compared with patients who received only a standard discharge, but there was no difference in patient satisfaction after an ED visit.29

Postdischarge Readmission

Results emphasized the importance of teach-back in reinforcing discharge instructions and improving postdischarge readmission rates. Of the 6 studies on the effect that teach-back with discharge summary had on readmission rates, 2 found statistically significant improvement for patients with heart failure at 12 months (teach-back, 59%; non-teach-back, 44%; P = .005) and patients with coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) at 30 days (preintervention, 25%; postintervention, 12%; P = .02).11,16 In addition, 3 of the 6 studies reported improvement but did not provide P values.18,20,22 One study indicated improvement in other measured outcomes but found no significant difference for patients who received teach-back with their discharge summaries.27 In all studies, teach-back was added to an intervention and used to confirm and promote knowledge and self-care management.

Patient Perception of Teach-Back Effectiveness

In 2 qualitative studies, patients indicated teach-back was an effective educational method.16,33 For patients with CABG, Bates and colleagues added a scheduled cardiology follow-up appointment and teach-back patient education to their State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations interventions; 96% of participants rated teach-back effective or highly effective.16 In the other study, Samuels-Kalow and colleagues interviewed 51 patients and parents who received teach-back as part of the discharge process in 2 EDs; participants indicated teach-back helped them remember what they learned from their HCPs, and gave them the opportunity to connect with their HCPs, though some with lower health literacy expressed concerns about perceived judgment by HCPs.33


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