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Research News

Women's Research Roundtable Closes Out Women's History Month

April 10, 2012

In support of its longstanding commitment to women Veterans' health, VA’s Office of Research & Development (ORD) held a virtual media roundtable addressing women Veterans health research on March 27, coinciding with the conclusion of Women's History Month.

The roundtable featured three leading VA Health Services Research & Development Service (VA HSR&D) investigators: Elizabeth Yano, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., Co-Director of the VA HSR&D Center of Excellence for the Study of Healthcare Provider Behavior and Deputy Associate Chief of Staff for Health Services Research at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System; Susan Frayne, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Director of the Women's Health Center, VA Palo Alto Health Care System; and Donna L. Washington, M.D., M.P.H., Staff Physician at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and Women's Health and Equity Strategic Program Area Lead at the VA HSR&D Center of Excellence for the Study of Healthcare Provider Behavior.

Dr. Yano addressed the topic "Ensuring Quality of Care for All Women Veterans by Developing a Robust Research Infrastructure and Building Capacity." In her remarks, she highlighted two recently-funded major initiatives for women Veterans health research: the VA Women's Health Research Consortium, which is designed to train, mentor and support the next generation of VA investigators focused on women Veterans' health and healthcare; and the VA Women's Health Research Network, which is comprised of a group of VA medical centers (led by local VA women's health researchers and clinicians) committed to conducting multi-site studies that support VA's research agenda for women Veterans.

Dr. Washington discussed timely access to healthcare as essential to ensuring optimal health outcomes for women Veterans. She also highlighted three key findings from the National Survey of Women Veterans: Unfamiliarity with the enrollment process and with available women's health services are key access barriers to care; many women Veterans who obtain healthcare in the private sector—particularly those who are uninsured—are at risk for not receiving needed care; and the relationship between women Veterans' perspective about VA healthcare and their satisfaction with that care.

Dr. Susan Frayne reviewed the Women's Health Evaluation Initiative, which analyzes national VA databases to support program development initiatives. Some of the key findings from those analyses included: A doubling in the number of women Veterans in VA over the past decade (VA now cares for over 300,000 women Veterans); and developments with regard to age distribution among women Veterans—particularly the expected intensification in service use as women Veterans in their 50s to early 60s move into their early 60s and 70s and develop late-life chronic health care conditions.

Providing opening remarks and setting the stage for the women's health research roundtable were Joel Kupersmith, M.D., VA ORD's Chief Research & Development Officer, , and Sally Haskell, M.D., acting director of Comprehensive Women's Health for the Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group.

VA ORD roundtables provide reporters with an opportunity for direct discussion with leading VA researchers on key research topics and portfolio areas. Each hour-long session includes brief remarks by researchers on a designated topic followed by a question and answer session. To learn more about this roundtable, or to download materials provided to the media, visit the VA ORD Media Roundtable web page.

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