Vogt DS (National Center for PTSD, Women's Health Sciences Division)
Tanner LR (National Center for PTSD, Women's Health Sciences Division)
King LA (Boston University, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry)
King DW (Boston University, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry)
Samper RE (National Center for PTSD, Women's Health Sciences Division)
La Bash HA (National Center for PTSD, Women's Health Sciences Division)
While VHA and HSR&D have increasingly focused on the healthcare provided to women veterans, the need for additional improvements remains. This study addresses previously observed deficits in VHA staff gender awareness (Vogt et al., 2001) through the development and validation of an educational intervention to enhance VA healthcare workers' awareness of women veterans and their healthcare needs.
An interactive, computerized educational program was developed and administered to employees at the Boston VAMC. A control group completed a computerized training on stress management. All participants completed the Gender Awareness Inventory (GAI-VA; Salgado et al., 2002), which measures the three interrelated components of gender-role ideology, sensitivity, and knowledge, before (T1), immediately following (T2), and approximately one month after the intervention (T3). 98 employees participated at T1, 83 at T2, and 50 at T3. Repeated-measures ANOVAs were used to examine the effect of the intervention on employees’ scores over time. Participants also completed a subjective evaluation of the programs at T2. Data collection is ongoing at two additional sites.
At the Boston site, participants completing the gender awareness program showed significantly greater increases in sensitivity towards and knowledge about women veterans post-intervention than did control group participants, F(1,81)=17.38, and F(1,80)=32.74, respectively, ps<.01. These changes were stable over time. Changes in ideology scores, however, were not significantly different according to condition from T1 to T2, F(1,81)=1.72, p>.10, or T2 to T3, F(1,48)=.04, p>.80. User satisfaction with the gender awareness program was high; 94% of respondents found the information interesting and informative and 98% would recommend the training to fellow coworkers.
Results indicate that the gender awareness program can bring about a sustained increase in employees’ sensitivity towards and knowledge about women veterans. However, it was unable to produce significant change in negative gender stereotypes involving women veterans and their healthcare. Analyses from additional site data will test the robustness of these findings.
The development and validation of this educational intervention is a positive step toward improving women veterans’ healthcare in VHA. Importantly, this mechanism can be modified as needed in the future and adapted for use with other patient populations.