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Chrystal JG, Dyer KE, Gammage CE, Klap RS, Carney DV, Frayne SM, Yano EM, Hamilton AB. Increasing Engagement of Women Veterans in Health Research. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Apr 1; 37(Suppl 1):42-49.
BACKGROUND: Meaningful engagement of patients in health research has the potential to increase research impact and foster patient trust in healthcare. For the past decade, the Veterans Health Administration (VA) has invested in increasing Veteran engagement in research. OBJECTIVE: We sought the perspectives of women Veterans, VA women''s health primary care providers (WH-PCPs), and administrators on barriers to and facilitators of health research engagement among women Veterans, the fastest growing subgroup of VA users. DESIGN: Semi-structured qualitative telephone interviews were conducted from October 2016 to April 2018. PARTICIPANTS: Women Veterans (N = 31), WH-PCPs (N = 22), and administrators (N = 6) were enrolled across five VA Women''s Health Practice-Based Research Network sites. APPROACH: Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Consensus-based coding was conducted by two expert analysts. KEY RESULTS: All participants endorsed the importance of increasing patient engagement in women''s health research. Women Veterans expressed altruistic motives as a personal determinant for research engagement, and interest in driving women''s health research forward as a stakeholder or research partner. Challenges to engagement included lack of awareness about opportunities, distrust of research, competing priorities, and confidentiality concerns. Suggestions to increase engagement include utilizing VA''s patient-facing portals of the electronic health record for outreach, facilitating "warm hand-offs" between researchers and clinic staff, developing an accessible research registry, and communicating the potential research impact for Veterans. CONCLUSIONS: Participants expressed support for increasing women Veterans'' engagement in women''s health research and identified feasible ways to foster and implement engagement of women Veterans. Given the unique healthcare needs of women Veterans, engaging them in research could translate to improved care, especially for future generations. Knowledge about how to improve women Veterans'' research engagement can inform future VA policy and practice for more meaningful interventions and infrastructure.