The “teach-back” method improves surgical informed consent and shared decision-making: a proof of concept study

The “teach-back” method improves surgical informed consent and shared decision-making: a proof of concept study
Kevin D. Seely, Jordan A. Higgs, Lindsey Butts, Jason M. Roe, Colton B. Merrill, Isain Zapata, Andrew Nigh
Patient Safety in Surgery, 28 October 2022; 16(33)
Open Access
The teach-back method is a communication tool that can improve patient safety and shared decision-making. Its utility in patient care has been studied extensively in many areas of clinical medicine. However, the literature on teach-back in surgical patient education and informed consent is limited, and few studies have been conducted to test its impact on perioperative patient interactions. The objective of this study was to evaluate if the teach-back method can improve informed consent and surgeon trust. An assessment of the time required to be implemented was also evaluated.
A standardized interaction role-playing a pre-operative informed consent discussion was designed. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was selected as the proposed procedure. Standardized patients were split into two groups: teach-back and a control group. The control group was delivered a script that discloses the risks and benefits of laparoscopic cholecystectomy followed by a concluding prompt for any questions. The teach-back group was presented the same script followed by the teach-back method. Interactions were timed and patients completed a quiz assessing their knowledge of the risks and benefits and a survey assessing subjective perceptions about the interaction. Statistical analysis through Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) was used to compare visit length, performance on the comprehension quiz, and subjective surgeon trust perceptions.
34 participants completed the scenario, the comprehension quiz, and the survey (n = 34). Analysis of the subjective evaluation of the physician and encounter was significant for increased physician trust (p = 0.0457). The intervention group performed higher on the knowledge check by an average of one point when compared to the control group (p = 0.0479). The visits with intervention took an average of 2.45 min longer than the control group visits (p = 0.0014). People who had the actual procedure in the past (evaluated as a confounder) were not significantly more likely to display the same effect as the teach-back method, suggesting that the knowledge and trust gained were not based on previous experiences with the procedure.
When employed correctly by surgeons in the perioperative setting, the teach-back method enhances shared decision-making, comprehension, and surgeon trust. Incorporating the teach-back method into risk and benefit disclosures effectively informs and more fully engages patients in the informed consent process. Notably, the added benefits from using teach-back can be obtained without a burdensome increase in the length of visit.

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