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Griffin JM, Malcolm C, Wright P, Hagel Campbell E, Kabat M, Bangerter AK, Sayer NA. U.S. Veteran Health Care Utilization Increases after Caregivers' Use of National Caregiver Telephone Support Line. Health & Social Work. 2017 May 1; 42(2):e111-e119.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established the national Caregiver Support Line (CSL) in February 2011. The CSL is operated by licensed master's degree social workers who provide caregivers of veterans with information about caregiver benefits and services, counseling, and referrals to a caregiver support coordinator at the nearest VA medical center. The authors compared differences in veteran health care utilization patterns in the six months before and after a caregiver call to the CSL, hypothesizing that veterans with caregivers using the CSL had improved access to health care services and improved access increased utilization of health care. A pre- and posttest design was used. CSL calls that resulted in referrals to VA health care services or to local VA caregiver support coordinators were included in the sample. Data were extracted from the CSL database and matched to veteran care utilization data using veteran medical record data. Veteran inpatient stays for general medicine, hospice, respite, and long-term care significantly increased after the CSL call, but other inpatient stays (surgery, neurology) did not. Outpatient services for home health, respite, and mental health all significantly increased. Caregivers' use of the national CSL may help facilitate access for veterans to needed care services.