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Discontinuity of Women Veterans' Care in Patient-Centered Medical Homes: Does Workforce Gender Sensitivity Matter?

Than CT, Washington DL, Vogt D, Chuang E, Needleman J, Canelo I, Meredith LS, Yano EM. Discontinuity of Women Veterans' Care in Patient-Centered Medical Homes: Does Workforce Gender Sensitivity Matter?. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2022 Mar 1; 32(2):173-181.

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BACKGROUND: Prior research has found that 25% of women veterans who are new to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system discontinue services within 3 years of initial use. Although it has been suggested that providing more gender-sensitive care might improve women veterans' health care experiences, no study has yet documented an empirical relationship between clinic and provider factors associated with the provision of gender-sensitive care and women veterans' care discontinuity. METHODS: Surveys of primary care providers (n  =  82) and staff members (n  =  108) from 12 VA medical centers were linked to administrative data for women veteran patients with at least one primary care visit in 2014 and 2015 (n  =  9,958). Patient care discontinuity was operationalized as having no additional primary care visit within 3 years after the patient's baseline visit. Key indicators of gender-sensitive comprehensive primary care included type of medical home (women's health-focused vs. general primary care), workforce gender sensitivity, team functioning, perceived quality of provider/staff communication, leadership support for medical home implementation, and other structural components of care delivery (e.g., chaperone availability). We used logistic regression to assess the association between these indicators and women's care discontinuity, measuring discontinuity for both new and continuing VA users and controlling for patient characteristics. RESULTS: Eleven percent of women patients discontinued primary care within 3 years. Poor workforce gender sensitivity (lowest quartile vs. top three quartiles) was significantly associated with higher odds of discontinuity (odds ratio, 1.26; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.57); other indicators were not associated with discontinuity. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to document a relationship between workforce gender sensitivity and women veterans' care continuity. This finding underscores the need for additional attention to enhancing workforce gender sensitivity in VA.

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