Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research
VA recently announced funding for a new Center of Excellence (CoE) to expand its capacity to deliver innovative, data-driven, and integrated approaches to improve services for Veterans and their caregivers. Managed by HSR&D, this first-of-its-kind center will be named for Senator Elizabeth Dole in recognition of her national leadership and advocacy on behalf of the nation's 5.5 million military and Veteran caregivers. The Elizabeth Dole Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research (EDCoE) will allow VA to further evidence-based research that informs the most appropriate and effective care for Veterans based on their needs. Leading the multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized VA investigators and their university affiliates are: Luci Leykum, MD, MBA, MSc, and Erin P. Finley, PhD, MPH with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System; Stuti Dang, MD, MPH, a geriatrician with the Miami Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center; Mary Jo Pugh, PhD, RN, FAAN, with HSR&D's Informatics, Decision-Enhancement and Analytic Sciences Center (IDEAS 2.0), Salt Lake City, UT; and Ranak Trivedi, PhD, with HSR&D's Center for Innovation to Implementation, Palo Alto, CA. Here, the leadership team discusses the new Center and how it will impact Veterans' care.
Q: How did you all begin working together?
A: Many of us on the research team had connections to each other, and putting together our Center proposal was an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate. Our work started with colleagues contacting each other about the possibility of putting a proposal together, and was soon followed up by frequent conference calls. It was quickly apparent that the diversity of ideas and perspectives brought by the multi-disciplinary members of the research team allowed us to develop holistic and comprehensive approaches to the issues of improving care for Veterans and support for their caregivers.
Q: What unique value will the Center bring to research around Veterans' caregivers?
A: There has been growing attention on the need to support caregivers, especially to ensure that Veterans can maximize their time at home as they manage a diverse array of serious illnesses. The VA has a long history of supporting caregivers with various programs. With this CoE, we have an opportunity to understand in a deeper way the unmet needs of caregivers and Veterans. There are many home and community based services available to our Veterans, both inside VA, and through other federal, state and local agencies. However, many are not aware of these resources, or find it challenging to access them. The impact of these programs across different groups of Veterans and caregivers may not be well understood. Understanding gaps in knowledge and access are key to matching resources to those who can benefit from them the most. Our CoE will allow us to obtain information regarding these and many other facets of the caregiver experience.
A strength of the EDCoE is that it will leverage existing resources and varied skills of researchers at multiple partnering sites to transform practice and improve outcomes in both young and old high-need, high-risk Veteran populations and their caregivers. Our team includes nurses, physicians, psychologists, anthropologists, economists, and educational experts—as well as Veterans and caregivers. This multi-disciplinary approach allows us to assess the needs of Veterans and caregivers in a comprehensive way that recognizes the diversity of Veterans and caregivers and their needs. The needs and tasks of young adult caregivers are worlds apart from those of older adult caregivers, and are different from those in middle age. We are excited to bring methodological rigor to understand the caregiver experience and pilot test tools to improve it. The EDCoE provides resources to interact with and reach the diversity of Veteran caregivers, and can help craft policy that may address these distinct needs.
The EDCoE will include Veterans and caregivers in our work, most importantly in obtaining their insights and feedback regarding which outcomes are most important to them, and how we should assess the effectiveness of the programs that serve them.
Finally, we will recruit clinician investigators at the post-doctoral and post-residency levels, allowing us to train the next generation of scientists in this area and expand VA's capacity to support Veterans and caregivers most effectively.
Q: What are your hopes for the long-term impact of this work?
A: All of us hope that our research leads to programs and policies that improve the lives of the broad population of Veterans and their caregivers in a way that supports them across the lifespan of caregiving. For younger caregivers, this might be 50 years or more, so it is imperative that we develop approaches to minimize their burden, provide support, and ultimately maximize health and wellbeing in these caregivers so that they are able to achieve their life goals in the context of the caregiving relationship.
Because our team includes clinicians at the frontlines of care, Veterans, and caregivers, we recognize the challenges and heart-wrenching dilemmas that caregivers face when making tough choices regarding care. We hope the EDCoE will lead to knowledge and policy changes that enhance VA's ability to allow Veterans and caregivers to "Choose Home" as the place where Veterans receive care. As our CoE is named for Elizabeth Dole, we hope we can help to fulfill the vision of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in creating "an America where military caregivers are empowered, appreciated, and recognized for their service to our nation."
Q: What do you value most about working with Veterans, or within the VA healthcare system?
A: All of us are deeply honored to have the opportunity to work with Veterans, their caregivers, and their families. The opportunity to do work that can improve the lives of individuals who have given so much for our nation is one we highly value. Working within the VA healthcare system provides us with the ability to have our work translated into action that impacts people's lives, and that is fulfilling!
Research news highlights and deadlines for grant and paper submissions
- TIDIRC 2019 Now Accepting Applications. The National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Control & Population Studies Training Institute for D&I Research in Cancer is accepting applications until January 16, 2019 12PM ET.
- HSR&D Suicide Prevention Roadmap. Ensuring seamless access to a continuum of high-quality mental healthcare and suicide prevention resources during the transition from uniformed service to civilian life is critical in preventing Veteran suicide. The HSR&D Suicide Prevention Research Roadmap (228KB, PDF) is a key support tool for investigators focusing on this topic.
- HSR&D Welcomes Two New Scientific Program Managers. Dr. Stephen Marcus joins HSR&D as the Scientific Program Manager (SPM) for health systems and the Mission Act. Dr. Courtney Paolicelli joins HSR&D as SPM for the complementary and integrative health portfolio and the HSR&D Innovation Initiative.
- HSR&D Finalists Achieve VA Shark Tank Gold Status. Four HSR&D finalists in this year's VA Shark Tank Competition—Drs. Matt Crowley, Susan N. Hastings, Judith Long, and Miriam Morey—achieved Gold Status, which means that they received bids from VA facilities during the Shark Tank competition held on August 30, 2018.
- HSR&D Researchers in Residence. Under the VA National Researchers in Residence Program, HSR&D has funded five VA researchers to spend time in clinical programs or VISN offices to help with analysis and to bring research knowledge to policy and program planning.
- SERVE Toolkit for Veteran Engagement. The Toolkit was designed to support VA Research Centers and investigators in efforts to include Veterans and other stakeholders in the development, implementation, and dissemination of research studies.
Papers, briefs, and other recent work by or featuring HSR&D investigators
- HSR&D FORUM. The Summer 2018 issue of HSR&D FORUM focuses on research innovation.
- HSR&D Impacts. Learn more about research efforts with clinical and operational partners that have had an impact on the healthcare system, and ultimately, on the quality of healthcare for Veterans. Recent Impacts include:
- The September issue of In Progress looks at improving opioid safety. This quarterly publication highlights ongoing research in a specific topic area.
- The Investigator Insights podcast series includes brief interviews and discussions of current research with investigators throughout VA.
- The July 2018 and November 2018 issues of the Quality Enhancement Research Initiative eNews are now available on the QUERI website.
- Veterans Perspectives. HSR&D's monthly publication Veterans' Perspectives highlights research conducted by QUERI (Quality Enhancement Research Initiative) investigators, showcasing the importance of research for Veterans—and the importance of Veterans for research.
- Issue 5: Improving Access to Evidence-Based Non-Pharmacologic Pain Care in VA
- Issue 4: Tailoring VA's Diabetes Prevention Program to Women Veterans' Needs
- Management eBriefs and Evidence Briefs. HSR&D's Evidence-Based Synthesis Program provides syntheses of targeted healthcare topics of particular importance to VA managers and policymakers. The following reports were recently published:
- HSR&D Monthly Spotlight. The HSR&D website publishes a monthly feature highlighting ongoing and recently concluded HSR&D- and QUERI-funded investigations focused on a single topic. The following topics have been recently featured:
Awards & Honors
Recent recipients of national awards, honors, or significant career achievements
- HSR&D Investigators Named ACMI Fellows. HSR&D investigators Brian E. Dixon, PhD, MPA, and Michael E. Matheny, MD, MS, MPH, were among the 18 new Fellows inducted into the American College of Medical Informatics during the American Medical Informatics Association's annual symposium.
- HSR&D Investigators Elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Three investigators were recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
- Rachel Werner, MD, PhD, core investigator with the HSR&D Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion.
- Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD, research scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and Chair of Biomedical Informatics at UC San Diego Health.
- Albert Siu, MD, MSPH, directs the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.
- Laura A. Petersen, MD, MPH, FACP, received the 2017 Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research—the highest honor for a VA health services researcher.
To submit an award notice for possible publication on the HSR&D website, be sure that the award is recognized at a national and/or international level. Internal awards, such as departmental awards, are not accepted. The award can be for a Center-wide achievement or for an individual investigator.