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Health Services Research & Development

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Gender-tailored Practices Enhance Diabetes, Cardiovascular, and Mental Healthcare for Women Veterans

February 1, 2021


Takeaway: Through the Enhancing Mental and Physical Health of Women through Engagement and Retention (EMPOWER) QUERI, more than 2,200 women Veterans have engaged in gender-tailored evidence-based practices, and over 150 providers have been trained. Research results have been used by five VA Program Offices to inform enhancements in women Veterans’ care; open-access publications have been viewed online more than 13,000 times, and EMPOWER QUERI tip sheets have been broadly disseminated to more than 600 researchers and staff.

Women Veterans are the fastest-growing segment of VA healthcare users. Despite many improvements in VA women’s healthcare quality, gender disparities persist in diabetes and cardiovascular risk factor control, as well as rates of depression and anxiety. Further, mental health comorbidity is disproportionately high among women Veterans. Care models that are tailored to the needs and resources of women Veterans, their providers, and their care settings can help reduce these disparities and improve engagement and retention in appropriate and effective care. The Enhancing Mental and Physical Health of Women through Engagement and Retention (EMPOWER) QUERI was designed to improve women Veterans’ engagement and retention in evidence-based care tailored to meet their needs. Specific projects include:

  • Tailoring VA’s Diabetes Prevention Program to Women Veterans’ Needs provided women Veterans with pre-diabetes the choice of either an in-person, peer-led or online gender-specific, evidence-based diabetes prevention program. The program was implemented in two sites in VISN 22, in which 119 women Veterans were served and 93 staff/providers were trained.
  • Facilitating Cardiovascular (CV) Risk Screening and Risk Reduction in Women Veterans was designed to increase the identification of CV risk among women Veterans, enhance patient/provider communication, and provide an intervention to facilitate women Veterans’ engagement and retention in appropriate health services. The intervention was implemented at six sites in VISNs 1, 17 and 22, in which 1,723 women Veterans were served and 57 staff/providers were trained.
  • Implementation of Tailored Collaborative Care for Women Veterans has provided a care management model tailored to enhance provider-and system-level capabilities to address women Veterans' anxiety and depression treatment needs, and thereby women Veterans’ engagement and retention in primary care-mental health integration care. The intervention was implemented within two sites in VISNs 20 and 22, in which 406 women Veterans were served and 10 staff/providers were trained.

Further, research results have been used by five VA Program Offices to inform enhancements in women Veterans’ care, open access methods publications have been viewed online more than 13,000 times, and EMPOWER QUERI tip sheets have been disseminated to more than 600 researchers and staff.


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