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Health Services Research & Development

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2012 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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2012 National Meeting

3071 — Gender-Concordant Mental Healthcare for Females with Histories of Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Hyun JK, and Pavao J, OMHS, Military Sexual Trauma Support Team and National Center for PTSD; Kimerling R, OMHS and Center for Health Care Evaluation; Saweikis M, OMHS, Military Sexual Trauma Support Team and National Center for PTSD; McCutcheon S, OMHS National Mental Health Director of Family Services, Military Sexual Trauma, and Women's Mental Health; Karpenko J, OMHS, Military Sexual Trauma Support Team and National Center for PTSD;

Objectives:
VHA policy recommends that Veterans being treated for conditions related to MST should have the option of being assigned a same-sex mental health provider. Treatment by a provider of the same gender, or gender-concordant care, is a particularly salient issue among female Veterans. The aim of this study was to inform the Office of Mental Health Services: 1) the proportion of female Veterans who receive any MST-related mental healthcare from a female provider and 2) the proportion of all MST-related mental healthcare provided by a female provider.

Methods:
The 2009 Medical Outpatient SAS Data Set was combined with provider gender and occupation data obtained from the VA Personnel and Accounting Integrated Data System (PAID) for the 27,092 female Veterans in 138 VHA facilities with MST-related mental health encounters. Data were analyzed for the frequency of encounters associated with female providers.

Results:
84.7% of female Veterans received care from a female provider for at least one MST-related mental health encounter. Of those who received any care from a female provider, the majority of all MST-related mental health encounters (80.5%) were with a female provider. Only a small proportion of female Veterans received MST-related mental healthcare from only a male provider and the majority of their encounters were with male psychiatrists.

Implications:
The majority of MST-related mental healthcare for female Veterans was delivered by female providers in 2009. Care by male providers may be a function of access to psychiatric services in some facilities.

Impacts:
Facilities appear to be meeting conditions of the Uniform Mental Health Services package to provide access to gender-concordant mental healthcare. This study shows how monitoring of gender-concordant care may inform and improve the delivery and quality of MST-related mental health services. Furthermore, this study represents a method of examining provider gender, which has received relatively little attention in health services research for women Veterans.


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