<--GAT-->

What Women Want: Assessing How VA Meets Health Care Needs

by U.S. Medicine

August 1, 2011

With an influx of women veterans entering the VA system in higher numbers than ever before, the department has given women’s health care high priority. One step in addressing this growing population is assessing what women are looking for in a VA health-care experience.

A study recently conducted by VA’s Center for Comprehensive Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) looked at 1,002 VA-enrolled Midwestern women veterans to determine their preference and perceptions with sole or dual VA healthcare use.

The study found that both sole and dual (VA and non-VA) users were more likely to have served in a combat area, have a current diagnosis of PTSD and have generally poorer physical health than non-VA users, who were more likely to be married and have private health insurance.

Women veterans solely using VA healthcare were more likely to want to be given a choice of a male or female healthcare provider. Both sole and dual users thought VA provided adequate privacy and safety during outpatient exams, and urban women veterans were more likely to endorse gender-specific environments for care and waiting areas. Overall, women using VA care had more positive perceptions of VA than those not using care.

Mengeling MA, Sadler AG, Torner J, Booth BM. Evolving Comprehensive VA Women’s Health Care: Patient Characteristics, Needs, and Preferences. Women’s Health Issues. 2011 Jul-Aug;21(4 Suppl):S120-9. PubMed PMID: 21724131.

Women Veterans Reproductive Health Preferences

Another study looking at women veterans’ preferences focused specifically on their experiences with reproductive healthcare services. Through focus group analysis, researchers at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, sought to characterize exactly what this patient population was looking for in reproductive care at VA.

Researchers conducted five focus groups with a total of 25 participants using a loose interview guide to elicit patients’ experiences and preferences with reproductive care at two VA facilities, then analyzed the transcripts of these sessions.

What Women Want: Assessing How VA Meets Health Care Needs Cont.

The women in the groups generally preferred VA women’s clinics for comprehensive medical care but had mixed reactions to VA’s reproductive care. Many had gaps in their knowledge about what kind of care was available at VA and perceived some kind of gender discrimination in their experiences with the department. They also believed that VA should provide additional coverage for advanced infertility care and for newborns.

Mattocks KM, Nikolajski C, Haskell S, Brandt C, McCall-Hosenfeld J, Yano E, Pham T, Borrero S. Women veterans’ reproductive health preferences and experiences: a focus group analysis. Women’s Health Issues. 2011 Mar-Apr;21(2):124-9. PubMed PMID: 21353978. 

Gender Comparison of OEF/OIF TBI Patients

Initial research has shown that men and women respond differently to combat injury, and TBI is no different. A population-based study conducted by the Women’s Health Sciences Division of VA’s National Center for PTSD looked at psychiatric diagnoses among OEF/OIF TBI patients of both genders and found significant gender differences in conditions and symptom severity following TBI.

The study looked at diagnoses and self-reported neurobehavioral symptoms in 12,605 OEF/OIF veterans evaluated for deployment-related TBI. Of these, 11,951 were men and 654 were women.

PTSD was the most common psychiatric condition for both genders, though women were less likely to have a PTSD diagnosis. However, women were twice as likely to have a depression diagnosis and 1.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorder. They were also 50% more likely to have PTSD with comorbid depression. According to researchers, blast exposure during deployment may account for some of these differences.

Iverson KM, Hendricks AM, Kimerling R, Krengel M, Meterko M, Stolzmann KL, Baker E, Pogoda TK, Vasterling JJ, Lew HL. Psychiatric Diagnoses and Neurobehavioral Symptom Severity among OEF/OIF VA Patients with Deployment-Related Traumatic Brain Injury: A Gender Comparison. Womens Health Issues. 2011 Jul-Aug;21(4 Suppl):S210-7. PubMed PMID: 21724143; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3132395. 

Back to August Articles


Related Articles

VHA Makes Progress in Improving Safety of Opioid Prescribing

VHA medical facilities should ensure that its providers are following three key opioid risk mitigation strategies, including conducting urine drug screening, a recent report recommended.

VA faces healthcare staffing shortages, barriers to hiring facility leaders

A facility-specific survey found that 138 of 140 VA facilities reported shortages of medical officers, with psychiatry and primary care positions being the most frequently listed.


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From department of defense dod

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD acknowledges its medical adverse event reporting is ‘unreliable’

The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Automation Speeds Results and Increases Accuracy for Point-of-Care Testing at Walter Reed NMMC

With a long history of point of care testing at both of its predecessor organizations, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) laboratory services staff were keenly aware of the advantages of using portable testing devices to obtain rapid patient assessments.

Department of Defense (DoD)

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD Study Finds That Type 2 Diabetes Increases Breast Cancer Mortality

Having Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2) increases mortality risk in breast cancer patients, regardless of whether diabetes was diagnosed before or after breast cancer, according to a recent study.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Now Hear This: Otolaryngologist Leads Effort to Prevent Auditory Issues

Among those who are exposed to combat, it’s the weapons fire that does it. In the Navy, it’s the noise levels in engine rooms and on the decks of carriers.

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up