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health literacy

Health literacy and teach back

Health literacy is about people having enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems. 

More information can be found at NHS Education for Scotland's The Health Literacy Place 

What: A programme of health literacy and ‘teach back’ to promote better understanding and self-management by patients

Who: Kate Burton – Public Health Practitioner

Approach: Promotion
Location: Edinburgh Community Health Partnership
Speciality: Long-term health conditions

What initiative or project are you involved in?

A programme of health literacy and ‘teach back’ to promote better understanding and self-management by patients.

What prompted the work?

The NHS Healthcare Quality Strategy in Scotland made a commitment to ‘improve resources to support better health literacy’.

Teach back is a technique that improves communication, patient safety, self-management and health literacy.

‘Teach back’ is a method used by healthcare providers, to confirm they have explained healthcare information in a manner understood by their patients.

Actions to achieve this ambition are system wide and will include ‘improving communication and effective collaboration between patients and staff’.

What difference has the project or initiative made?

Teach back has proved to be a simple but effective way to check, not only a patient’s understanding of their condition, but also to assimilate better the explanation and advice given to them at each interaction with nurses.

Nurses 4 public health

Nurses 4 public health

The RCN has been working with members on a series of case studies which help showcase the variety of ways nurses are currently working to improve public health. 

If you would like to submit a case study, please complete this template and email it to To fill out the template, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download here