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Women’s Health Issues Journal Focuses on Women Veterans


BACKGROUND:
Seven years have passed since VA’s Office of Research and Development put forward the 2004 VA women’s health research agenda, spanning biomedical/laboratory, clinical sciences, rehabilitation, and health services research and leading to a growing research portfolio. In fact, more research on the health of women Veterans was published from 2004 through 2008 than in the previous 25 years combined. To further accelerate this research agenda, HSR&D funded the VA Women’s Health Research Consortium, whose mission is to provide technical consultation, education/training, and mentorship support to augment the efforts of a now substantial group of researchers focused on women Veterans’ health. The Consortium also works to disseminate information about women’s health and, through HSR&D, has supported this special issue of Women’s Health Issues. It includes 18 peer-reviewed manuscripts summarizing health services research findings about women Veterans and women in the military, framed in the context of informing evidence-based practice and policy. These articles are complemented by commentaries from HSR&D (Lipson and Eisen) and from HSR&D’s clinical leadership partner in the Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group (Hayes), which oversees national VA women’s healthcare, in addition to an editorial from the Editor-in-Chief of the journal (Markus), a long-standing advocate for high-quality women’s health research.

FINDINGS INCLUDE:

  • VA has tailored primary care to women through the use of designated providers or separate women’s clinics. VA’s with these clinics were rated higher on most dimensions of care. These findings are particularly important to VA’s current implementation of patient-aligned care teams (PACTs).
  • More than half of VA facilities now offer one or more mental healthcare services specifically for women Veterans, including services embedded within women’s primary care clinics, designation of women’s healthcare providers within general mental health clinics, and/or separate women’s mental health clinics.
  • Recent data on VA care among men and women Veterans with histories of military sexual trauma (MST) show high satisfaction with care. Authors suggest that VA’s system-wide monitoring of MST-related care may be contributing to these positive results.
  • PTSD among women Veterans is associated with poorer occupational functioning and satisfaction, but not employment status. Symptoms of depression have substantial effects across all components of work-related quality of life, independent of PTSD symptoms.
  • PTSD is the most common psychiatric condition among both women and men with traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, women with TBI are less likely than men to have a PTSD diagnosis, but more likely to have a depression or anxiety disorder diagnosis.

IMPLICATIONS:
The potential for advancing evidence-based practice and policy as a result of VA’s investment in women’s health services research is unprecedented. In addition to strong research-clinical partnerships with leaders in VA Central Office (e.g., Office of Mental Health Services, Office of Patient Care Services), HSR&D has invested in promoting multi-site research through the inaugural sites of the VA Women’s Health Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN), designed to facilitate the recruitment of sufficient numbers of women Veterans, ensure their inclusion in a wider array of VA research, and foster the design and testing of interventions addressing the health problems of women Veterans.


APPENDIX

Yano, et al. Using Research to Transform Care for Women Veterans: Advancing the Research Agenda and Enhancing Research-Clinical Partnerships.

Bean-Mayberry, et al. Systematic Review of Women Veterans’ Health: Update on Gaps and Successes.

Rohrer, et al. A Five-Step Guide for Moving from Observational Studies to Interventional Research for Women Veterans.

Friedman, et al. New Women Veterans in VHA: A Longitudinal Profile.

Washington, et al. Tailoring VA Primary Care to Women Veterans: Association with Patient-Rated Quality and Satisfaction.

Mengeling, et al. Evolving Comprehensive VA Women’s Health Care: Patient Characteristics, Needs, and Preferences.

Oishi, et al. National Variations in Mental Health Care for Women Veterans.

MacGregor, et al. Approaches to Delivering Mental Health Services to Women Veterans in VA Settings.

Kimerling, et al. Military Sexual Trauma and Patient Perceptions of Veterans Health Administration Healthcare Quality.

Pierce, et al. Post-Deployment Health of Military Women Serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Schnurr, et al. Work-Related Quality of Life and PTSD Symptoms in Female Veterans.

Vimalananda, et al. Gender Disparities in Lipid-Lowering Therapy among Veterans with Diabetes.

Farmer, et al. Gender Differences in Smoking and Smoking Cessation Treatment: An Examination of the Organizational Features Related to Care.

Dichter, et al. Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Women’s Heart Health: Does Veteran Status Matter?

Yee, et al. Mental Illness and Substance Abuse: Is There an Association with Cancer Screening in Women Veterans?

Hamilton, et al. “Homelessness and trauma go hand-in-hand:” Pathways to Homelessness among Women Veterans.

Iverson, et al. Psychiatric Diagnoses and Neurobehavioral Symptom Severity among OEF/OIF VA Patients with Deployment-Related Traumatic Brain Injury: A Gender Comparison.

Sternke, et al. Measurement of Military Combat Exposure among Women: Analysis and Implications.

Yano E, Frayne S. (commentary): Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military: Research Informing Evidence-Based Practice and Policy.

Lipson L, Eisen S (editorial): VA Research: Committed to Women Who Have “Borne the Battle” and Beyond.

Hayes (editorial): Leading the Nation in Women’s Health: The Important Role of Research.


Yano E, Frayne S. Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military: Research Informing Evidence-Based Practice and Policy. Women's Health Issues 2011 July;21(4, Supplement):S64-66.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.