Keep it Simple: The More Information Given, the Less Likely a Patient Will Recall Key Points

April 4, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Patients with a lower level of education have more difficulty recalling key health information, especially if a large amount of information is given, according to a recent study published in PLOS One. The authors conducted an observational study based on coded transcripts of outpatient encounters and post-visit interviews with 101 patients who had 189 visits in ambulatory settings. Provider behaviors that were expected to be associated with recall, such as teach-back and open-questioning, were rarely used. Overall, 49% of information was recalled without prompting and 36% of information was recalled with a prompt. Breaking the numbers down further showed a variation in recall based on education level. Patients with a college degree recalled 65% of information freely and accurately, compared with 38% of patients who did not have a college degree.

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