274579 Access to care for women Veterans

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Donna L. Washington, MD, MPH , VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Timely access to healthcare is essential to ensuring optimal health outcomes, and not surprisingly, is at the heart of healthcare reform efforts. While the Veterans Health Administration (VA) has made improved access a priority, women Veterans still underutilize VA healthcare relative to men. Eliminating access disparities requires a better understanding of the barriers to care that women Veterans' experience. Objective: We examined the association of general and Veteran-specific barriers on women Veterans' healthcare access. Design and Participants: Cross-sectional, population-based national telephone survey of 3,611 women Veterans. Main Measure: Delayed healthcare or unmet healthcare need in the prior 12 months. Key Results: 19% of women Veterans had delayed healthcare or unmet need, with higher rates in younger age groups. Among those delaying or going without care, barriers that varied by age group were: unaffordable healthcare (63% of 18-34 versus 12% of 65-plus age groups); inability to take off from work (39% of those <50); and transportation difficulties (36% of 65-plus). Controlling for demographic, health, and healthcare characteristics, being uninsured, knowledge gaps about VA care, perception that VA providers are not gender-sensitive, and military sexual assault history predicted delaying or foregoing care, whereas VA use and enrollment priority did not. Conclusions: Many of the identified access barriers are potentially modifiable through expanded VA healthcare and social services. Health reform efforts should address these barriers for VA nonusers. Efforts are also warranted to improve women Veterans' knowledge of availability and affordability of VA healthcare, and to enhance the gender-sensitivity of this care.

Learning Areas:
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of prior year unmet health care need among women Veterans. 2. List general and veteran-specific factors that impact women Veterans’ access to care. 3. Identify women Veterans’ reasons for delayed health care or unmet health care need.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a national expert on the topic, with more than 10 years of research on women Veterans health and healthcare
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.