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Understanding Variation in Availability and Provision of Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy: A Qualitative Study of Department of Veterans Affairs Gynecologists.

Gray KE, Ma EW, Callegari LS, Magnusson SL, Tartaglione EV, Christy AY, Katon JG. Understanding Variation in Availability and Provision of Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy: A Qualitative Study of Department of Veterans Affairs Gynecologists. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2020 May 1; 30(3):200-206.

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BACKGROUND: Approximately one-half of women undergoing hysterectomy in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system receive minimally invasive hysterectomies (MIH), with Black women less likely than White women to receive MIH. We sought to characterize gynecologists' perspectives on factors contributing to the availability and provision of MIH and on the role of race/ethnicity in decision making. METHODS: Between October 2017 and January 2018, we conducted 16 in-depth semistructured telephone interviews with Department of Veterans Affairs gynecologists exploring practice characteristics and barriers and facilitators to providing MIH, including clinical and nonclinical characteristics of patients impacting surgical decision making. We identified key themes using simultaneous deductive and inductive thematic analysis. RESULTS: Gynecologists identified provider-, facility-, and patient-level barriers and facilitators to MIH. Provider-level factors included gynecologists' skills and training in MIH, and facility factors included access to qualified surgical assistants, availability of surgical equipment, and operating room resources, particularly time. On the patient level, clinical characteristics, including uterine size, were the most common determinants of surgical approach, but nonclinical factors such as patients' attitudes toward surgery also contributed. Race/ethnicity was identified by a minority of respondents as influencing hysterectomy route through clinical presentation and surgical attitudes. CONCLUSIONS: Given the range of factors identified, efforts to promote MIH in the Department of Veterans Affairs will likely require a multipronged approach that includes support for MIH training, increased access to surgical assistants with MIH skills, and reduced barriers to obtaining equipment. Patient perspectives are needed to more fully capture nonclinical patient-level contributors to MIH and differences in MIH between Black and White Veterans.

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