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Effectively Integrating Women Veterans into VA Health Services Research

Yano EM, Bean-Mayberry B, Hayes P, Wright S, Schnurr P, Washington DL. Effectively Integrating Women Veterans into VA Health Services Research. Presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2009 Feb 12; Baltimore, MD.


Workshop Objectives: Women's participation in the military has changed the demographics of the veterans we serve. Women now represent 15% of active duty, 20% of new recruits, and 17% of reserve and National Guard forces. They are now among the fastest growing segment of new users of the VA health care system, with surprisingly high enrollment among OEF/OIF veterans placing unexpected numbers of women into VA facilities. Historically, however, women veterans have been an extreme numerical minority in VA settings, which has resulted in a workforce with limited clinical expertise and exposure to their complex health care needs. Their small numbers have also created challenges to effectively integrating them into research efforts. The objectives of this workshop are to: 1) educate VA HSRandD researchers about what is known about how women veterans use VA, their physical and mental health disease burdens, and how VA health care is organized to meet their needs; 2) highlight recent activities launched by the Women Veterans Health Strategic Healthcare Group (WVSHG); 3) report on gender disparities from the Office of Quality and Performance (OQP); and 4) discuss approaches to ensuring the representation of women veterans in VA health services research studies, from secondary analyses to randomized trials. Activities: Workshop leaders will include experienced VA women's health services researchers, as well as senior leadership in the WVHSHG (Hayes) and OQP (Wright). Workshop leaders will begin with brief didactic segments on the evidence base for VA women's health care. Dr. Hayes will provide an overview of new WVSHG initiatives, including priority areas for quality improvement. Dr. Wright will present results of new analyses demonstrating gender disparities in VA quality. Workshop leaders will then engage audience participation in an open discussion of the challenges and potential solutions for increasing our inclusion of women veterans in VA health services research, including discussion of the potential development of a practice-based research network. Target Audience: The target audience is general VA health services researchers who are either interested in pursuing VA women's health services research or in effectively integrating women veterans into their research. Assumed Audience Familiarity with Topic: Participants do not require any special knowledge of women's health issues.

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