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What is the teach-back technique?

The teach-back technique is a tool that service providers can use when communicating with clients who have low health literacy. It assists service providers improve client comprehension.

Steps in the teach-back technique

  1. Explain one concept of a diagnosis or treatment plan to the client
  2. Then assess the client’s recall and understanding by asking the client to explain what you said
  3. Repeat the process until the client can demonstrate they have a satisfactory understanding of the information
  4. Introduce the next concept

Key elements for using teach-back

  • Be mindful of the amount of information conveyed at one time. The information should be broken up into small chunks so it can be relayed easily and avoid confusion
  • Use correct phrasing so that the client doesn’t feel like they are being tested

Good practice example

A GP is finishing her consultation with a patient and is adjusting the patient’s medication. She uses the phrase ‘I want to be sure that I explained your medication correctly. Can you tell me how you are going to take this medicine?’ She emphasises that she is merely asking in order to do her job correctly.

Last reviewed: Mar 2017

Languages: English

Resource Type: Tip/Fact Sheets