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Mattocks KM, Kroll-Desrosiers A, Kinney R, Singer S. Understanding Maternity Care Coordination for Women Veterans Using an Integrated Care Model Approach. Journal of general internal medicine. 2019 May 1; 34(Suppl 1):50-57.
BACKGROUND: An increasing number of women veterans are using VA maternity benefits for their pregnancies. However, because the VA does not offer obstetrical care, women must seek maternity care from non-VA providers. The growing number of women using non-VA care has increased the importance of understanding how this care is integrated with ongoing VA medical and mental health services and how perceptions of care integration impact healthcare utilization. Therefore, we sought to understand these relationships among a sample of postpartum veterans utilizing VA maternity benefits. METHODS: We fielded a modified version of the Patient Perceptions of Integrated Care survey among a sample of postpartum veterans who had utilized VA maternity benefits for their pregnancies (n = 276). We assessed relationships between perceptions of six domains of patient-reported integrated care, indicating how well-integrated patients perceived the care received from VA and non-VA clinicians, and utilization of mental healthcare following pregnancy. RESULTS: Domain scores were highest for items focused on VA care, including test result communication and VA provider's knowledge of patient's medical conditions. Scores were lower for obstetrician's knowledge of patient's medical history. Women with depressive symptom scores indicative of depression rated test result communication as highly integrated, while women who received mental healthcare following pregnancy had low integrated care ratings for the Support for Medication and Home Health Management domain, indicating a lack of support for mental health conditions following pregnancy. DISCUSSION: Among a group of postpartum veterans, poor ratings of integrated care across some domains were associated with higher rates of mental healthcare use following pregnancy. Further assessment of integrated care by patients may assist VA providers and policymakers in developing systems to ensure integrated care for veterans who receive care outside the VA.