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Katon JG, Washington DL, Cordasco KM, Reiber GE, Yano EM, Zephyrin LC. Prenatal Care for Women Veterans Who Use Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2015 Jul 1; 25(4):377-81.
OBJECTIVE: The number of women Veterans of childbearing age enrolling in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care is increasing. Our objective was to describe characteristics of women veterans and resumption of VA care after delivery by use of VA prenatal benefits. STUDY DESIGN: We used data from the National Survey of Women Veterans, a population-based survey. VA-eligible women veterans with at least one live birth who had ever used VA and were younger than 45 years when VA prenatal benefits became available were categorized based on self-reported receipt of VA prenatal benefits. Characteristics of by use of VA prenatal benefits were compared using 2 tests with Rao-Scott adjustment. All analyses used sampling weights. RESULTS: In our analytic sample, of those who potentially had the opportunity to use VA prenatal benefits, 25% used these benefits and 75% did not. Compared with women veterans not using VA prenatal benefits, those who did were more likely to be 18 to 24 years old (39.9% vs. 3.7%; p = .03), and more likely to have self-reported diagnosed depression (62.5% vs. 24.5%; p = .02) and current depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms (depression, 46.1% vs. 8% [p = .02]; PTSD, 52.5% vs. 14.8% [p = .02]). Compared with women veterans not using VA prenatal benefits, those who did were more likely to resume VA use after delivery (p < .001). CONCLUSION: Pregnant women veterans who use VA prenatal benefits are a high-risk group. Among those who opt not to use these benefits, pregnancy is an important point of attrition from VA health care, raising concerns regarding retention of women veterans within VA and continuity of care.