Use Teach-back and Help Every Patient Understand

Why do I need to use teach-back with every patient?

Studies show patients forget 40-80% of the medical information they receive and misremember about 50% of the information. You can use teach-back to help patients remember more information and remember it correctly.

What is teach-back?

  • Asking patients to explain information in their own words
  • Checking for understanding throughout the conversation
  • Sharing information with patients in a non-shaming way

Remember, teach-back tests how well you explain the information. It’s not a test of your patient’s intelligence.

When should I use teach-back?

Use teach-back every time you want patients to remember and understand. You can use teach back when you’re explaining:

  • Hospital discharge instructions
  • A new diagnosis
  • Treatment options
  • New medications
  • Procedure preparations
  • Goal setting
  • Informed consent
  • Self-care for chronic disease
  • Health education

Teach-back is a proven method to facilitate provider-patient conversations about health and medical safety. You can use the Universal Precautions Toolkit for ideas about using teach-back at your organization.

Where can I find Teach-back materials?

We suggest using the Universal Precautions Toolkit from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) web site at You can find other health literacy resources on the CDC’s web site at

The kit includes 20 tools, such as:

  • PowerPoint® presentations
  • Assessment tools
  • Discussion questions
  • Sample forms

Who can answer questions about health literacy?

Please contact the Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy. One of our members will contact you.