Background: Studies have shown that patient understanding and recall of their emergency department (ED) discharge instructions is limited. The teach-back method involves patients repeating back what they understand, in their own words, so that discharge providers can confirm comprehension and correct misunderstandings.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if the teach-back method would increase retention of post ED discharge instructions.
Methods: A before-and-after study design (pre and post teach-back method) was used at an academic Midwestern institution. After discharge, patients were asked a set of standardized questions regarding their discharge instructions via telephone interview. Answers were compared with the participant's discharge instructions in the electronic medical record. A composite score measuring mean percent recall correct was calculated in four categories: diagnosis, medication reconciliation, follow-up instructions, and return precautions. Data were collected for 1 week prior to and 1 week post intervention. One additional week between the pre- and postintervention phases included training and practice behavior adoption. The primary outcome was mean percent recall correct between the two groups assessed by a Mann-Whitney U test, and adjusted for confounders with an analysis of covariance model.
Results: The mean percent recall correct in the teach-back phase was 79.4%, or 15 percentage points higher than the preintervention group. After adjusting for age and education, the adjusted model showed a recall rate of 70.0% pre vs. 82.1% (p < 0.005) post intervention.
Conclusions: The teach-back method had a positive association on retention of discharge instructions in the ED regardless of age and education.
Keywords: discharge instructions; emergency department; teach-back method.
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