Frustrated by colleagues not “getting” health literacy?

Are you having trouble convincing your colleagues to always use teach back?  Do they believe poor, uneducated patients can have health literacy issues, but think it’s insulting to evaluate understanding of middle class or higher patients?  

The stress of a health threat can seriously compromise cognitive processing.  So under other circumstances this particular patient might understand it, but not today, not now.  In addition, health care professionals may think they’re speaking in plain language, but it’s really jargon-filled code.

Sometimes you just can’t reach even professionals with logic.  You have to go back to assessment.  Do they believe all patients who nod affirmatively understand them?  Do they believe all articulate patients will ask questions if they don’t understand?  Do they realize sometimes the patient thinks he or she understands, but actually doesn’t?

That’s why we always need teach back.

So here’s a little tool to help you reach those colleagues through the affective domain.  Skip the logic route and reach them through their innate compassion.

Show your colleagues this video from the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin of a real mom who thought she understood the doctor, but really didn’t.  Then talk about it with them.  Explain how a simple teach back would have prevented . . . well, you’ll see.

And let me know what kind of reactions you get.

Does this help?

©2018 Fran London, MS, RN

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