Using the teach-back method to improve postpartum maternal-infant health among women with limited maternal health literacy: a randomized controlled study

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2023 Jan 9;23(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12884-022-05302-w.


Aim: This study aimed to evaluate the effects of using the teach-back method among women with limited maternal health literacy (LMHL) on maternal health literacy(MHL), postpartum health behaviours and maternal-infant health outcomes.

Methods: A randomized controlled study was conducted in the obstetrics department of Anhui Provincial Hospital, China. A total of 258 pregnant women with LMHL were recruited at the point of admission to the hospital for birth and randomly assigned to the control group (n = 130), where women received routine education sessions, and the teach-back group (n = 128), where women received routine education sessions plus a teach-back intervention. The two groups were assessed in terms of MHL before and after the intervention, breastfeeding execution, uptake of 42-day postpartum check-ups, complete uptake of one-time recommended vaccines, and physical health outcomes. Statistical tests were employed for data analysis.

Results: There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of MHL and other social, demographic, and medical status at baseline. After the intervention, the teach-back group had a higher level of MHL (p < 0.001), better postpartum health behaviours in terms of exclusive breastfeeding within 24 hours postpartum (x2 = 22.853, p<0.001), exclusive breastfeeding within 42 days postpartum (x2 = 47.735, p<0.001), uptake of 42-day postpartum check-ups (x2 = 9.050, p = 0.003) and vaccination (x2 = 5.586, p = 0.018) and better maternal-infant health outcomes in terms of the incidence of subinvolution of the uterus (x2 = 6.499, p = 0.011), acute mastitis (x2 = 4.884, p = 0.027), postpartum constipation (x2 = 5.986, p = 0.014), overweight (x2 = 4.531, p = 0.033) and diaper dermatitis (x2 = 10.896, p = 0.001).

Conclusions: This study shows that the teach-back method is effective for enhancing MHL, leading to positive postpartum health behaviours, and improving postpartum maternal-infant health outcomes among women with LMHL. The teach-back method may play an important role in improving postpartum maternal-infant health and could be considered in maternal health education.

Trial registration number: Our trial has been prospectively registered at (Ref. No.: NCT04858945) and the enrollment date was 26/04/2021.

Keywords: Maternal health literacy; Postpartum maternal-infant health; Teach-back.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Health
  • Overweight
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy

Associated data