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What Women Want: Assessing How VA Meets Health Care Needs

USM 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.

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