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Veteran Postpartum Health: VA Care Team Perspectives on Care Coordination, Health Equity, and Trauma-Informed Care.

Gopisetty DD, Shaw JG, Gray C, Frayne S, Phibbs C, Shankar M. Veteran Postpartum Health: VA Care Team Perspectives on Care Coordination, Health Equity, and Trauma-Informed Care. Military medicine. 2022 Sep 16.

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INTRODUCTION: A growing number of veterans are having children, and pregnancy is an opportunity to engage with health care. Within the Veterans Health Administration (VA), the VA maternity care coordination program supports veterans before, during, and after pregnancy, which are periods that inherently involve transitions between clinicians and risk care fragmentation. Postpartum transitions in care are known to be especially tenuous, with low rates of primary care reengagement. The objective of this study is to better understand this transition from the perspectives of the VA care teams. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eight semi-structured qualitative interviews with VA team members who work in maternity care were conducted at a single VA center''s regional network. Interviews explored the transition from maternity care to primary care to understand the care team''s perspective at three levels: patient, clinician, and systems. Rapid qualitative analysis was used to identify emergent themes. RESULTS: Participants identified facilitators and opportunities for improvement in the postpartum transition of care. Patient-clinician trust is a key facilitator in the transition from maternity to primary care for veterans, and the breadth of VA services emerged as a key system-level facilitator to success. Interviewees also highlighted opportunities for improvement, including more trauma-informed practices for nonbinary veterans, increased care coordination between VA and community staff, and the need for training in postpartum health with an emphasis on health equity for primary care clinicians. CONCLUSIONS: The Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System care team perspectives may inform practice changes to support the transition from maternity to primary care for veterans. To move toward health equity, a system-level approach to policy and programming is necessary to reduce barriers to primary care reengagement. This study was limited in terms of sample size, and future research should explore veteran perspectives on VA postpartum care transitions.

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