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Availability of gynecologic services in the department of veterans affairs

Seelig MD, Yano EM, Bean-Mayberry B, Lanto AB, Washington DL. Availability of gynecologic services in the department of veterans affairs. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2008 May 1; 18(3):167-73.

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PURPOSE: The optimum approach to providing the Congressionally mandated gender-specific services for which women veterans are eligible is unknown. We evaluated onsite availability of gynecologic services, clinic type and staffing arrangements, and the impact of having a gynecology clinic (GYN) and/or an obstetrician gynecologist (OBGYN) routinely available. METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2001 national VHA Survey of Women Veterans Health Programs and Practices (n = 136 sites; response rate, 83%). We assessed availability of gynecologic services, and evaluated differences in availability by clinic type (designated women's health provider in primary care [PC], separate women's health clinic for primary care [WHC], and/or separate GYN) and staffing arrangements (OBGYN routinely involved versus not). MAIN FINDINGS: Out of 133 sites, 77 sites (58%) offered services through a GYN and 56 sites (42%) did not have GYN. Seventy-two (54%) sites had a WHC. More sites with an OBGYN provided endometrial biopsies (91% vs. 20%), IUD insertion (85% vs. 14%), infertility evaluation (56% vs. 23%), infertility treatment (25% vs. none), gynecologic surgery (65 vs. 28%), p < .01. In comparison to sites without WHC, those with WHC were more likely to offer services onsite: endometrial biopsy odds ratio (OR) 6.0 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0-18.1); IUD insertion 4.4 (1.6-12.2); infertility evaluation 2.8 (1.2-6.3); and gynecologic surgery 2.3 (1.0-5.4). CONCLUSION: As the VA develops strategic plans for accommodating the growing number of women veterans, leaders should consider focusing on establishing WHC for primary care and routine availability of OBGYN or other qualified clinicians, rather than establishing separate GYN.

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