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Health Services Research & Development

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FORUM - Translating research into quality health care for Veterans

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Director's Letter

David Atkins, MD, MPH, Director, HSR&D

Providing high-quality healthcare to women Veterans is one of VA's top priorities. Women are a growing and important population of Veterans. Their sociodemographics, needs, and experiences differ from male Veterans. For example, women Veterans are younger, more diverse in race/ethnicity, more often have a service-connected disability, have more outpatient visits, and suffer from greater mental health burdens and higher rates of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Women Veterans should have equitable access to VA healthcare, and they should feel safe and welcome whenever they seek assistance and care.

VA has embarked on many efforts to help achieve this. Chief among these is the funding of research that identifies ways to improve the health and delivery of care for women Veterans across the lifespan. Starting in 2004, HSR&D worked with the other VA Services to develop the first national VA Women's Health Research Agenda. Today, HSR&D has funded many projects, including those highlighted in this issue of FORUM. These projects strive to improve women Veterans' engagement and retention in VA care (Hamilton, p. 8), including their healthcare needs across the lifespan - from preventive care to reproductive care to care for older women Veterans (Mattocks, p. 6, Sadler, p. 5, Gibson, p. 4).

These projects require that research investigators work with VA clinical and operational partners, which expedites the translation of research findings into practice and helps make sure the research addresses the needs of women Veterans. Examples of operational partners include the Office of Women's Health (Hayes, p. 1), Office of Health Equity, Office of Mental Health & Suicide Prevention, Office of Rural Health, LGBTQ+ National Program Office, Office of Post Deployment Health, and more (Yano, p. 3). Why does this work matter? Our research has shown that we can find ways to improve care for women Veterans, reduce harassment, help prevent women Veteran suicide, improve prosthetics for women, and more. HSR&D is committed to funding this important research and working with its operational partners to improve the health and healthcare of women Veterans.

Amanda Borsky, DrPH, MPP, HSR&D Scientific Program Manager, and David Atkins, MD, MPH, Director, HSR&D


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