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Coming back for more: factors linked to higher participation among Veterans with chronic pain in an innovative VA-YMCA wellness clinic.

Preddie AK, Donnelly CE, Miech EJ, Myers LJ, Williams LS, Damush TM. Coming back for more: factors linked to higher participation among Veterans with chronic pain in an innovative VA-YMCA wellness clinic. BMJ open quality. 2024 Jan 29; 13(1).

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In 2019, the Indianapolis VA developed a Wellness Clinic in partnership with the Young Men's Christian Associations (YMCA) to comprehensively address Veterans' chronic pain. Our specific aims were twofold: (1) to evaluate the implementation of the Veterans Health Indiana (VHI) Wellness Clinic on patient utilisation and (2) to evaluate patient functioning.We conducted a mixed-methods evaluation, which included the extraction of VA administrative data to identify a patient cohort; the conduct of chart review to extract clinic utilisation, clinical outcomes collected during pain-related healthcare services and comorbidities; and semistructured interviews with Veteran patients who used the VHI Wellness Clinic in different patterns to identify challenges and facilitators to clinic utilisation. We applied configurational analysis to a Veteran sample who had their first visit to the VHI Wellness Clinic in March/April 2019 to pinpoint difference-making factors linked to Veterans' successful participation.The cohort included 312 Veterans (83% male), mean age of 55.4 years. The configurational model included six factors: participation in physical therapy, pain psychology or pain education sessions (22%); presence of any 'no-shows' (57% had 0); history of depression (39%) and clinic referral source (51% self-referred from primary care). The model consisted of four different pathways to successful participation, explaining 60% of cases in the higher-participation group with 86% consistency. Patient outcomes after clinic utilisation demonstrated a significant reduction in self-reported pain and pain catastrophising across time. Moreover, patients reported distance to clinic as both a facilitator and challenge.This mixed-methods analysis identified specific biopsychosocial factors and clinical services directly linked to higher Veteran participation in a new VA-YMCA Wellness Clinic. The VHI Wellness Clinic embedded within a YMCA facility is a feasible and efficacious healthcare delivery model for primary care patients experiencing chronic pain. Additional marketing to clinical providers for referrals and to patients to extend its reach is needed.

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