Since 2007, the Health Literacy Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center has been dedicated to improving health through better education. Karen Komondor, director, organizational development, at the Health Literacy Institute was invited to speak at the recent Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s Health Literacy Conference in Costa Mesa, California. The conference draws participants from around the world to discuss practical health literacy solutions.
Karen presented a research summary she developed with Dr. Ryan Choudhury on the topic of “Assessing Teach-Back Utilization in an Urban Downtown Medical Center.”
The teach-back method, also called “closing the loop,” is a patient-provider centered communication method that reinforces and demonstrates patient comprehension. Patients exhibit their understanding of given instructions and medication directions by explaining them in their own words. This allows for any errors in communication to be addressed prior to leaving the hospital. The teach-back method has been advocated as a means to assist all patient populations in understanding health information.
When the Health Literacy Institute was created, an interdisciplinary team was initially trained in health literacy principles, including the use of teach-back, through the American Medical Association’s Train the Trainer program. Members of the team have since trained all clinical staff in the use of plain language and teach-back.
Karen and Dr. Choudhury performed a study to test the use of the teach-back method by nurses and resident physicians. Nurses and resident physicians completed an online survey regarding their use of teach-back with patients. They also gave opinions and feedback on teach-back as a tool for patient communication as well as perceived barriers to its use. Survey data was then integrated into nursing and resident training for health literacy and performing teach-back with patients. Finally, random inpatients were surveyed to assess for acknowledgment of teach-back, and whether they felt talking to providers was beneficial.
Through the study, nurses and resident physicians reported being familiar with teach-back and most thought that they utilized this method frequently or always and that teach-back is important. They also reported confidence in using this technique. In addition, perceived barriers were identified by the providers, which were then addressed during training sessions.
To learn more about the Health Literacy Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, visit https://www.stvincentcharity.com/services-centers/health-literacy-institute/.