The purpose of this presentation is to encourage discussion about the topic of nurses’ activity incorporating an ‘understanding assessment’ following the provision of patient health education. The delivery of health education is a key role for any health professional. However, research suggests little attention is paid to the patients’ understanding of the education they have been provided.
A narrative literature review was undertaken. A comprehensive search of eight databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Academic Onefile, Cochrane Library, Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, ScienceDirect and Google Scholar) generated fifty-five articles for review.
Four themes related to the question were identified:
- Health literacy and its influence on understanding
- Gap between actual and perceived understanding
- The impact of the educational programme and understanding assessment tools and
- Individual and psychosocial effects
Results indicate that up to fifty percent of the information given to patients is not understood, and assessment of understanding following education rarely takes place. A number of factors affect the patients’ comprehension including; health literacy levels, the gap between perceived and actual comprehension, education programmes, assessment tools and individual physical/psychosocial characteristics.
To promote patient independence and self-management through education, assessment of understanding needs to be incorporated into standard practice. Health professionals need to have an awareness of the factors influencing comprehension and promote strategies to identify at-risk individuals.
If comprehension is assessed, patient education could potentially be enhanced resulting in positive consequences for the individual, the health service and society.
Key words: Patient Education; Health Promotion; Health Literacy; Comprehension; Teach-back; and Knowledge Test.