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Center for the Study of Healthcare Provider Behavior. What Does Women’s Health Care Look Like in the VA?. Elizabeth M. Yano, PhD, MSPH; Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, MD, MHS; Ismelda Canelo, MPA; Andrew B. Lanto, MA; Donna L. Washington, MD, MPH VA Greater Los Angeles HSR&D Center of Excellence

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What does women s health care look like in the va l.jpg

Center for the Study of

Healthcare Provider Behavior

What Does Women’s Health Care Look Like in the VA?

Elizabeth M. Yano, PhD, MSPH;

Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, MD, MHS; Ismelda Canelo, MPA;

Andrew B. Lanto, MA; Donna L. Washington, MD, MPH

VA Greater Los Angeles HSR&D Center of Excellence

UCLA Schools of Public Health and Medicine

Academy Health  Washington DC  June 10, 2008

Background l.jpg

  • Changing demographics of military

    • 15% of active military, 17% of National Guard/Reserves and 20% new recruits are women

  • Women veterans among fastest growing segments of new users of VA health care

    • Overall about 11% market penetration

    • As high as 40% of OEF/OIF electing to use VA

  • Women veterans who use the VA have unique health care needs

    • Lower functional status vs. male vets, non-vet women

    • Special mental health care needs (PTSD, MST)

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  • Gaps in care historically documented

    • Congressional eligibility reforms changed array of services to be made available to women veterans

      • Including mandated provision of gender-specific services

  • Considerable debate about how best to organize care for women veterans

    • Numerical minority creates challenges

    • VA providers with limited exposure to women

  • VHA faces considerable challenges in meeting women veterans’ health care needs

    • Complicated casemix, growing caseload, service mix

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  • To evaluate how VA women’s health care is organized and how well VA is adapting to women veterans’ health care needs

    • VHA Handbook 1330.1 recommends specific primary care delivery models for women

      • Separate women’s health clinics

      • Designated women’s health providers in general primary care

    • Legislation requires attention to privacy and appropriate service availability

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Design and Sample

  • Time-series organizational surveys

    • Key informants at network, facility, clinic levels

    • 2001 and 2007

  • National census of all VA health care facilities serving 200+ women veterans

    • Respondents included all VA regional network directors, chiefs of staff, senior WH clinicians

    • Focus on clinic-level results (82% and 86% RRs)

    • Facilities represent 80% of women veterans seen in VA settings

  • Focus on clinic-level results

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Survey Development

  • Domain development anchored in diffusion theory and Donabedian structure-process-outcome framework

  • Expert panel review and priority-setting of domains using modified Delphi techniques

    • Representatives from VA and non-VA

    • Experience`e with different care model variations

  • Iterative survey item/scale development, cognitive interviews and pilot testing

Measures l.jpg

  • Clinic structure/operations

    • General PC, women’s, gyn and mental health

    • Half-day sessions open, service availability

  • Privacy/sensitivity

    • Physical space arrangements (exclusive, reserved vs. shared exam rooms and waiting rooms)

    • % same-gender providers available

  • Service availability (VA vs. not, on vs. offsite)

    • Basic women’s health services (e.g., paps, mamms)

    • Specialized women’s health services (e.g., breast cancer surgery, prenatal care)

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Most VAs had Designated WH Providers in PC or a Women’s Clinic (2001)

GYN clinic 21%

no GYN clinic 3%

Source: Yano, et al. Women’s Health Issues (2003)

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What Does VA Women’s Primary Care Look Like Now? (2007) Clinic (2001)

BUT 44% deliver


exams only

GYN clinic 9%

no GYN clinic 11%

Source: Yano, Washington, Bean-Mayberry (HSR&D #IIR 04-036) (2007).

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Shifts Towards Integrated Primary Care Delivery (2001-2007) Clinic (2001)

% of VA Facilities

Proportion of Women Veterans Using General Primary Care

for All/Most of their Primary Care Needs

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Integrated Primary Care (2007) Clinic (2001)

  • 42% of VAs have designated WH providers in general PC to whom women veterans are preferentially assigned

    • 56% have one for whole PC practice

    • 9% have one in each PC team

    • 18% have a WH primary care team

    • Others: randomly assigned, count NPs, no specifics

  • Lack adequate clinical expertise in WH (p<.05)

  • Lack same-gender providers (p<.01) (32% vs. 74%)

  • Designated WH providers only available 6 half-day sessions/week

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VA Gynecology Clinics Clinic (2001)

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VA Mental Health Care for Women Clinic (2001)

*All/most of the time

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Women’s Health Service Availability Clinic (2001)

Available onsite

Non-VA referrals

Available onsite

Other VA

Available onsite

Available onsite

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Women’s Health Service Availability Clinic (2001)

Non-VA referrals

Non-VA refs

Available onsite

Available onsite


Available onsite

Other VA

Non-VA refs

Avail onsite

Other VA

Non-VA refs

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Conclusions Clinic (2001)

  • Designating a WH provider in general PC a common approach

    • Meaning of designation unclear (training, clinical experience, organizational supports)

  • Growth of women’s clinics balanced by focus on gender-specific exams

    • Increased fragmentation rather than one-stop shopping model

    • Gender-sensitive mental health provision lags

  • VA facilities split in decision to improve onsite capability to deliver WH care (build vs. buy)

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Implications Clinic (2001)

  • VA will continue to face challenges in ensuring high-quality care for women veterans

    • Recent influx increases demand for evidence-based management solutions

  • Early evidence demonstrates better outcomes for separate women’s clinics for:

    • Gender-specific processes of care (e.g., paps)

    • Patient ratings of care (e.g., accessibility, continuity)

    • But less clear advantages for gender-neutral quality (e.g., diabetes quality, colorectal cancer screening)

  • Future work needed to develop evidence-based implementation plans that map to local structure