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2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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2004 — Suicide Prevention Research and Enhancing Veteran Engagement: building trust, cohesion, and collaboration

Lead/Presenter: Leah Wendleton
All Authors: Wendleton LR (Denver/Seattle COIN, Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention) Hoffmire CA (Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention) Drop S (ASCEND Veteran Engagement Board) Flower M (ASCEND Veteran Engagement Board) Nolan JP (ASCEND Veteran Engagement Board) Parham C (ASCEND Veteran Engagement Board) Jones R (ASCEND Veteran Engagement Board) Monteith LL (Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention)

To ensure the Assessing Social and Community Environments with National Data (ASCEND) survey is relevant to Veterans’ needs and preferences, Veteran engagement has been included as an integral component from project inception. A diverse, project-specific Veteran Engagement Board (VEB) was convened to partner with the researchers during project development. This Poster will describe the specific strengths of Veteran Engagement in survey-based research.

The ASCEND for Veteran Suicide Prevention project seeks to develop and implement a survey-based surveillance system to understand prevalence, trends and drivers of non-fatal suicidal self-directed violence (NF-SSDV; e.g., suicide attempt, suicidal ideation) in the Veteran population. ASCEND is grounded in the social-ecological model for suicide prevention and addresses suicide risk among Veterans, including those who do and do not use Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare.

The ASCEND VEB was formed in 2019, shortly after project initiation. The VEB meets monthly with ASCEND investigators for project updates and to contribute their individual perspectives on various aspects of the project, such as feedback on the survey instrument, recruitment materials, and dissemination of findings to Veteran audiences.

To date, ASCEND VEB members have contributed to strengthening communication with potential Veteran participants through suggestions regarding the language of the outward-facing materials and approaches to contacting participants. Members suggested refining survey wording and placement of questions regarding potentially sensitive survey topics (e.g., firearms and suicidal self-directed violence). VEB members have also contributed their individual perspectives regarding current events as the investigators considered potential additions to the survey in the wake of national and global events.

This ongoing collaboration is important because it highlights the benefits of Veteran Engagement to survey research.