2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference

5004 — Building deeper Veteran engagement one hour at a time

Lead/Presenter: Angela Dickson
All Authors: Dickson A, Gendrett, A (COIN-Houston) Helmer, D (COIN-Houston) Kamdar, N (COIN-Houston)

The mission of our Veteran Engagement Group (VEG) is to provide a space for Veterans and investigators to meet and exchange ideas that inform and improve the quality of research generated at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Safety, and Effectiveness (IQuESt) in Houston, TX

The Houston VEG has been in operation since 2016 and consists of 14 men and women from different military service eras, racial/ethnic groups, and education/career backgrounds. Every month, we meet with various IQuESt investigators to discuss aspects of their research design or research-in-progress. After sharing a brief background on their study at hand, the research team presents their question(s) and, over the course of an hour, we openly share our thoughts and reciprocate questions with the shared goal to generate research that will improve Veteran health and well-being. While this model allows for short, productive engagement with investigators, we identified that some projects would benefit from more extensive, deeper Veteran engagement.

Over the past year, the Houston VEG has started expanding beyond monthly sessions and is forging formal and informal consultant roles on various research teams at IQuESt. For example, I, Angela Dickson (US Air Force, Retired), volunteered to help two early career investigators on their VA-funded research projects by either connecting them with other women Veterans (Boykins, ORH #16022) or by sharing my knowledge as a project manager and facilitator of adult learning (Kamdar, CDA [JIT]). The VEG’s monthly, one-hour sessions can serve as a steppingstone to deeper Veteran engagement. During this time, Veterans and investigators are allowed time to gauge interest and determine if continued engagement is needed. At times, we find a fit for deeper and sustained engagement, and other times it is more appropriate to help investigators on an as needed basis during our monthly VEG sessions.

Between January and June of 2022, we engaged with six different research teams through our monthly, one-hour sessions. Subsequently, three of these teams connected with three different Veterans from our VEG to continue deeper Veteran engagement. The Veterans serve on the teams as either compensated or voluntary consultants.

Both levels of engagement- the monthly sessions and the deeper Veteran engagement- allow for Veterans to share our insights and promote Veteran-centricity of the research emanating from IQuESt to improve our health and well-being.