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Predictors of discharge from the VA Caregiver Support Program.

Van Houtven CH, Smith VA, Berkowitz TSZ, Miller KEM, Shepherd-Banigan M, Henius J, Kabat M. Predictors of discharge from the VA Caregiver Support Program. The American journal of managed care. 2022 Aug 1; 28(8):e289-e295.

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OBJECTIVES: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) is a clinical program providing training, a monthly stipend, and other services to caregivers of qualifying post-9/11 veterans with service-related injuries. Veteran-caregiver discharge from the program occurs when veteran recovery is achieved, participation is no longer in the veteran''s best interest, or caregiving ceases. Public scrutiny about potentially inappropriate discharges resulted in a nationwide freeze on all discharges. PCAFC expanded to pre-9/11 veterans in October 2020; thus, lessons learned can continue to inform the expanded program. We pursued 3 objectives: (1) describe the discharge rate, reasons for discharge, and veteran and caregiver characteristics by discharge status; (2) identify factors associated with discharge from PCAFC nationally; and (3) characterize network variation in discharge predictors. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective observational study using VA administrative data from fiscal year (FY) 2011 to FY 2017. METHODS: Using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression, we examined factors associated with PCAFC discharge among veterans and caregivers enrolled in PCAFC during FY 2011 to FY 2016. RESULTS: A total of 40.5% of all participants were discharged. Nonspouse caregivers and those applying in later years had the highest rates of discharge; spouse caregivers and those applying in earlier years had the lowest rates of discharge. In 4 of 18 networks, caregivers of Black veterans faced higher rates of discharge compared with caregivers of White veterans, and in 1 network, they faced lower rates of discharge. Substantial variability in rates of discharge was also observed across Veterans Integrated Service Networks. CONCLUSIONS: Training on clinically appropriate discharge criteria could improve practice and increase equity.

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