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New Visions: Exploring the Health Experiences of Disabled Women Veterans through Photovoice

Brown AA, Garmon GE, Fitzgibbon ML, Lee TA. New Visions: Exploring the Health Experiences of Disabled Women Veterans through Photovoice. Paper presented at: American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition; 2010 Nov 10; Denver, CO.


A patient-centered needs assessment pilot study was conducted to determine the feasibility of a unique and innovative method to examine facilitators and barriers to VA health services for women veterans with disabilities. Nine female participants who self-identified as having a disability were recruited from a local VA women's health center. The study used multiple data sources, including personal interviews, group discussions, photographs, and narratives, and culminated with a public Photovoice Exhibit, presentations to the VA community, the public, local news media, and hospital administrators. Key concerns were identified and grouped into 5 major themes: a) military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and experiences with mental health services, b) the need for improved physical access and safety and within the VA facility, c) challenges with the disability and trauma claims process, d) gender and disability sensitivity training for health providers and administrators, and e) the need for greater recognition and visibility for disabled women veterans. In addition, the women expressed having a positive appreciation for having a women's health center and offered recommendations for improving other health services. The findings from this pilot study support further application of Photovoice to facilitate participatory action research techniques that promote partnerships among researchers, clinicians, administrators, and patients. Implications for engaging interdisciplinary practice and future research will be discussed.

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