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Early palliative care for advanced lung cancer increases survival

Early palliative care is associated with better survival in patients with advanced lung cancer, according to a study by VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health and Science University researchers.... (09/17/2019)

Abnormal gut bugs tied to worse cognitive performance in Vets with PTSD and cirrhosis

A study involving Veterans with PTSD and cirrhosis of the liver points to an abnormal mix of bacteria in the intestines as a possible driver of poor cognitive performance—and as a potential target for therapy. ... (09/11/2019)

Bronx VA psychiatrist-researcher cited for work in suicide prevention

Veteran Wilfredo Santo was so grateful for Dr. Marianne Goodman's suicide prevention program at the Bronx VA that he arranged to have a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of the physician-researcher.... (09/11/2019)

Gaining insight into Parkinson's

A set of research projects at the Cleveland FES Center is using deep brain stimulation, virtual reality, and other technology to better understand how Parkinson's disease affects walking and balance.... (08/29/2019)

Gut sense

VA Research is planning a series of studies to gain insight into the gastrointestinal and liver problems that beset many Veterans after deployments. The goal is to bring new treatments to bear as soon as possible. ... (08/21/2019)

Review: Biofeedback could help treat a number of conditions

A literature review by VA researchers highlights the usefulness of biofeedback for headache and incontinence treatment, and stroke recovery. There was less evidence for its role in other conditions.... (08/20/2019)

VA-DeepMind partnership reports on technology for early detection of life-threatening kidney condition

Researchers from VA and the artificial intelligence company DeepMind have achieved a promising medical breakthrough, developing a technology that has the potential to predict a life-threatening kidney condition up to two days before it happens.... (08/20/2019)

Gene variants tied to kidney disease have only modest cardiovascular effect in African Americans

In a study of nearly 31,000 African American participants in VA's Million Veteran Program, researchers found that two gene variants tied to kidney disease have only a modest cardiovascular effect.... (08/16/2019)

New VA program helping inventors turn ideas into viable products

The Technology Transfer Assistance Project (TTAP), an initiative of the VA Technology Transfer Program, aims to bring worthy VA discoveries closer to public use by supporting the creation of a working prototype and by consulting on pathways for commercialization.... (08/01/2019)

Study finds decline in antibiotic use for older Veterans with urinary infections—a positive result from stewardship efforts

A new study finds a significant drop in antibiotic use at VA community living centers treating older Veterans with urinary tract infections—a positive sign in efforts to limit the health problems that can result from the improper use of antibiotics.... (08/01/2019)

MVP study identifies genes linked to re-experiencing symptoms in PTSD

A VA Million Veteran Program study has identified multiple locations in the human genome related to the risk of re-experiencing traumatic memories, the most distinctive symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder.... (07/29/2019)

Routine blood tests could predict future diabetes

Researchers from three VA health care systems showed that elevated blood glucose levels detected in routine outpatient tests, though well below diagnostic thresholds, predicted diabetes diagnoses within five years. ... (07/19/2019)

Study finds new genetic markers for peripheral artery disease

VA researchers and colleagues studied the genetic characteristics of 31,300 veterans with peripheral artery disease and identified 19 genetic markers, 18 of which were not previously reported. The study used data from VA's Million Veteran Program.... (07/18/2019)

Study: New brain stimulation technique shows promise in easing PTSD

A new VA study found that a form of brain stimulation that can rapidly improve communication between neurons in the brain helped ease PTSD symptoms. The team is also using virtual reality as part of PTSD therapy... (07/10/2019)

Study: Vets with PTSD twice as likely as U.S. population to die from suicide, accidental injury, liver damage

A new study finds that Veterans who have been treated for PTSD are twice as likely as the U.S. population to die from suicide, accidental injury, and viral hepatitis, an infection that causes liver inflammation and damage.... (07/10/2019)

VA aims to expand artificial-intelligence research, appoints inaugural AI director

VA is already using artificial intelligence in several ways, such as for suicide prevention and cancer treatment. Now an effort is underway to widen the role of AI in VA care and research. To that end, VA has appointed its first-ever director of artificial intelligence.... (07/10/2019)

VA Diabetes Trial

VA researchers have published long-term follow-up results from a major diabetes trial, in which patients saw no significant drop, on average, in heart attacks or strokes—despite intensive therapy to lower blood sugar levels.... (06/27/2019)

Comprehending the effects of blasts

One way researchers are trying to untangle the mysteries of traumatic brain injury is through animal models, namely rats and mice, and simulated blasts. The goal is to better understand the effects of blasts on the brain, and thereby develop new therapies to heal Veterans and others.... (06/27/2019)

Scientists display medical innovations at 'VA Research Day' in nation's capital

Nearly 25 leading VA researchers, some accompanied by Veteran study participants, showcased their latest scientific, medical, and technological advances in Washington, D.C., as part of the second annual “VA Research Day on the Hill,” held June 20 at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. ... (06/26/2019)

Can brain stimulation ward off dementia?

A VA researcher in Little Rock aims to delay Alzheimer’s through a form of brain stimulation. The target population is those with mild cognitive impairment who display the psychological trait of apathy, shown to be a key risk factor for progression to full-blown dementia. ... (06/26/2019)

Studies: Shame worsens outcomes for Vets with PTSD

VA research suggests that feelings of shame may be a key link between PTSD and suicidal thinking among Veterans. One study found that shame "fully accounted for the effects of PTSD on suicidal ideation."... (06/10/2019)

Kansas City VA lab aims to improve prognosis for pancreatic cancer

A team at the Kansas City (Missouri) VAMC is working to boost the effectiveness of a drug seen as the best hope for patients with pancreatic cancer—even if most tumors become resistant to it after a few doses. They also have a nanomedicine-based approach to pancreatic cancer in the works.... (06/10/2019)

Study: Patients with diabetes do as well with physician assistants, nurse practitioners as with physicians

VA patients with diabetes have similar health outcomes regardless of whether their primary provider is a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, according to a Durham VA Health Care System study.... (06/04/2019)

Molecular delivery system takes arthritis drugs directly to joints

In lab studies, VA researchers have developed a potential method to deliver arthritis medication directly to painful joints without risking side effects in the rest of the body.... (06/03/2019)

High LDL linked to early-onset Alzheimer's

Researchers at the Atlanta VA found a link between high LDL cholesterol and early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The results could help doctors understand how the disease develops and what the possible causes are, including genetic variation.... (05/28/2019)

The right prescription

A physician-investigator at the Washington DC VAMC is a member of the African American Cardiovascular Pharmacogenomics Consortium, created in 2016 to advance precision prescribing—based on patients’ genes—of cardiovascular drugs for African Americans.... (05/22/2019)

Study: Video games can help Veterans recover from mental health challenges

A recent study with a small sample of Veterans trying to recover from mental health issues found that video games can help in overcoming such problems as PTSD and substance use disorders.... (05/22/2019)

Study finds high levels of abnormally fast brain waves in mild brain injury

A VA San Diego study finds that Vets and service members with a history of combat-related mild traumatic brain injury have much higher levels of abnormally fast brain waves in a region that plays a key role in consciousness.... (05/09/2019)

VA and partners hope APOLLO program will be leap forward for precision oncology

VA and two federal partners—the Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute—are looking to harness the latest advances in genomic and proteomic medicine to help tailor cancer treatment for individual Veterans and service members. The effort is named APOLLO, after the space mission that landed men on the moon.... (05/01/2019)

'An intriguing structural finding'

A new study finds that Veterans and active-duty service members with combat-related PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury had larger amygdalas—the region of the brain that processes such emotions as fear, anxiety, and aggression—than those with only brain injuries.... (04/29/2019)

Study confirms value of prolonged exposure therapy for Vets with PTSD and alcohol problems

A VA San Diego study has confirmed the value of prolonged exposure therapy for Veterans coping with both PTSD and alcohol problems. Some experts have worried exposure therapy could worsen drinking in this population.... (04/24/2019)

3D images, algorithms are key in potential new tool for measuring bedsores in spinal cord injury

VA researchers are developing a new instrument for measuring bedsores, or pressure ulcers, using 3D cameras, tablet computers, and an algorithm. The work will mainly benefit Veterans with spinal cord injuries.... (04/23/2019)

Housing for homeless Veterans

Researchers delved into the different living situations available to homeless Veterans through the HUD-VASH voucher program. VA Research Currents talked with investigator Dr. Ann Elizabeth Montgomery about what her team learned.... (04/11/2019)

Gene transfer improves diabetes-linked heart ailment

Researchers with VA and the University of California San Diego have shown that a gene transfer technique can combat heart dysfunction caused by diabetes.... (03/27/2019)

Omega-3s: Are they really good for your heart?

Dr. Salim Virani, a VA cardiologist in Houston, co-authored a review study summarizing recent clinical trials on omega-3 fatty acids. He addresses current recommendations for the general public and those with existing heart disease.... (03/27/2019)

PTSD nightmares: Is there an effective treatment?

A review article by a VA clinician-researcher explores why nightmares are a hallmark of PTSD, examines the associated health risks, discusses the best treatments, and identifies future research needs.... (03/13/2019)

Collaborative care in mental health reduces hospital admissions

In a VA study involving nearly 5,600 Veterans, collaborative care models for mental health reduced hospitalization rates and, for complex patients, improved health status.... (03/13/2019)

A grape-based cancer therapy?

A team at the Washington DC VA is testing an extract made from the skins of muscadine grapes against aggressive forms of prostate cancer in the lab. The work complements a clinical trial based at Johns Hopkins University.... (03/05/2019)

Study: Technology helps upper-limb amputees regain a sense of touch

A small VA trial confirmed that a neural feedback system developed by VA and Case Western Reserve University investigators could help give back a sense of natural touch to amputees using artificial hands... (02/28/2019)

Conference to examine health, legal issues involving Veterans and others who break the law

Veterans are among the special populations to be discussed at an upcoming conference on health care in the criminal justice system. Veterans make up about 8 percent of the arrestee, jail, prison, and community-supervision population.... (02/28/2019)

Preventing colon cancer

The VA Colonoscopy Collaborative is a framework for promoting epidemiological research and quality improvement. The ultimate goal is to optimize the effectiveness of colonoscopies in VA and thereby improve Veterans' outcomes.... (02/21/2019)

VA study links antibiotics with diabetes risk

A study from the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System found that Veterans with a history of antibiotic use were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.... (02/14/2019)

Better care for the elderly

In two studies, researchers assessed the impact of VA's GeriPACT program, a model of primary care designed around the needs of older patients.... (02/06/2019)

Large genome study leads to better understanding of high blood pressure

A large, international genetic study using Million Veteran Program data has identified more than 200 gene variants that could contribute to high blood pressure. The study also identified over 200 drugs currently used to treat other diseases that could potentially be repurposed to treat high blood pressure.... (02/06/2019)

San Diego VA study testing cannabidiol—a compound derived from cannabis—for PTSD

Researchers at the VA San Diego Healthcare System aim to see whether cannabidiol, or CBD—a compound derived from cannabis plants—can help ease PTSD.... (02/05/2019)

Study: Online program helps Veterans lose weight, potentially prevent diabetes

VA researchers compared an online version of the Diabetes Prevention Program to an in-person DPP and to MOVE!, VA's flagship weight management program.... (02/05/2019)

Relationship impairment due to PTSD and depression has opposite effect on treatment-seeking in men and women

Relationship problems stemming from PTSD and depression could have opposite effects on men and women in terms of their seeking mental health treatment, found a VA Boston Healthcare System.... (01/23/2019)

VA studies highlight pros, cons of different blood thinners after heart valve replacement

A pair of recent VA studies looked at how patient outcomes differed based on which drugs doctors prescribed to prevent blood clots after surgery to replace faulty aortic valves. ... (01/16/2019)

Review study points to most effective mind-body therapies for PTSD

VA researchers reviewing nearly two dozen randomized VA trials on mind-body therapies gave three of the therapies a nod of approval: mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation. ... (01/16/2019)

Mindfulness and PTSD: What does the research show?

Taken on balance, findings from clinical trials suggest that mindfulness practices can be a helpful aid for Veterans seeking to recover from PTSD... (12/28/2018)

Researchers explore Vet preferences for receiving results from genetic tests

A VA study is exploring Veterans' preferences for receiving the results of genetic tests they complete as part of research.... (12/20/2018)

San Diego VA study yields new insight on how memory works

Two VA researchers have explored how memory is tied to the hippocampus, with findings that will expand scientists' understanding of how memory works and ideally aid in detection, prevention, and treatment of memory disorders.... (12/20/2018)

Tackling trauma, depression via the immune system

A VA research team hopes to show how the immune system can be harnessed to treat depression and PTSD.... (12/11/2018)

Growing Pains

Two VA studies on the Veterans Choice Program found that patients generally liked the health care they received but found the process challenging.... (12/04/2018)

Higher overdose risk seen in Massachusetts patients getting opioids from both VA and non-VA pharmacies

Veterans in Massachusetts who had opioid prescriptions filled by both VA and non-VA pharmacies had worse outcomes than who receiving prescriptions from VA only, according to a new study.... (12/04/2018)

Trial confirms safety of vein-removal technique used in open-heart surgery

A VA Cooperative Studies Program trial has found that a form of vein removal used in heart bypass surgery—endoscopic vein harvesting—is just as safe as "open" vein harvesting when it's performed by surgeons with ample expertise in the technique.... (11/28/2018)

When it comes to using birth control, intention and attitude matter

A new VA study adds to the evidence that women's intentions around becoming pregnant don't fully explain whether and how they use contraception. Rather, their attitudes toward becoming pregnant also play a role.... (11/28/2018)

Is alcohol healthy?

A new study finds that consuming alcoholic beverages daily—even at low levels that meet U.S. guidelines for safe drinking—can be "detrimental" to your health. The findings are similar to those of other recent research.... (11/28/2018)

Study: Veterans with multiple brain injuries twice as likely to consider suicide, compared with those with one or none

A new study finds that post-9-11 Veterans with a history of repeated traumatic brain injuries—versus none—are at much greater risk for considering suicide... (11/20/2018)

Reflections of a Nobel laureate in medicine on his career with VA and life in the USA

Dr. Andrew V. Schally, who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1977 for identifying the structure of hormonal peptides in the brain, offers reflections on his career with VA and life in the USA.... (11/15/2018)

Study: In-person, but not online, social contact may protect against psychiatric disorders

In-person social contact seems to offer some protection against depression and PTSD symptoms, but the same is not true of contact on Facebook, suggests a study by VA researchers and colleagues.... (11/15/2018)

Hormone analogs as medical treatment

A manmade compound based on a brain hormone spurred the growth of cancer in Petri dishes but enigmatically had the opposite effect in mice. The compound and others like it are being looked at not only for their effect on cancer, but for their ability to regrow healthy tissue to heal damaged hearts and other organs. ... (11/06/2018)

Can a natural compound subdue suicidal thoughts?

VA researchers are trying to learn whether uridine, a naturally occurring dietary supplement, has the potential to subdue suicidal thinking, or ideation.... (10/24/2018)

No 'legacy effect'

Long-term follow-up of a major VA diabetes study shows that patients who received intensive therapy to lower blood sugar did not see a significant drop, on average, in heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events... (10/24/2018)

MVP study on cholesterol genetics could lead to new treatments for heart disease, diabetes

Using data from VA's Million Veteran Program, a team led by VA and Stanford researchers has identified three genetic mutations that govern cholesterol levels.... (10/24/2018)

Study finds shortcomings in how doctors talk about lung nodules

Lung nodules are common, but most are benign. A new VA study points to deficiencies in how health care providers communicate with patients about the condition when it is detected.... (10/04/2018)

Study shows how binge drinking and stress affects male, female mice differently

A VA and Oregon Health & Sciences University team found that a history of binge drinking made male and female mice react differently to traumatic stress. The research may help scientists understand why men and women seem to handle both alcohol and stress differently.... (10/04/2018)

Crisis prevention

The REACH VET program uses predictive modeling and medical record data to identify Veterans at high risk for suicide. In its first year, the program identified 30,000 at-risk Veterans. VA researchers are now evaluating the program’s overall effectiveness. ... (09/20/2018)

VA aims to improve effectiveness of programs through randomized evaluations

VA has turned to its research community to design and initiate rigorous randomized evaluations of several key VA programs, serving Veterans affected by opioid use, suicide risk, and other high-priority issues.... (09/13/2018)

A new resource for Gulf War research

VA researchers have built a new resource, the Gulf War Era Cohort and Biorepository, they hope will help address some of the lingering questions on Gulf War Veterans' health problems.... (09/12/2018)

Veterans and the criminal justice system

Dr. Andrea Finlay in Palo Alto is one of several VA researchers who are exploring trends and characteristics related to Veterans who collide with the criminal justice system. ... (09/07/2018)

It's in the genes

VA researchers aim to learn whether a genetic test can help patients and doctors choose the right statin medication, with an eye toward minimizing the muscle pain that sometimes occurs with the drugs.... (08/28/2018)

Parental support

VA researchers are hoping to improve the experience of parents who are caregivers for their adult children who have served in the military and are battling severe physical or mental injuries. ... (08/23/2018)

Home use test of brain-computer interface for ALS patients yields 'complicated' results

Researchers from several VA medical centers conducted home testing of a brain-computer interface for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with mixed results.... (08/23/2018)

Data-sharing milestone

The landmark military-sponsored Millennium Cohort Study, which has tracked the health of more than 200,000 service members, will now incorporate VA data, as an aid to both VA and Defense researchers.... (08/10/2018)

Breathing easier

VA scientists are working to create a 3D-printed artificial lung that promises to dramatically improve the treatment of Veterans affected by lung disease. ... (08/01/2018)

Lab tests show protein reverses memory loss in HIV-infected mice

A VA scientist in Atlanta has long been trying to determine how HIV causes or worsens memory problems, in the hope that he and others can develop treatments to ease or reverse the troubling symptom. ... (07/24/2018)

Smokers hazy on actual benefits of lung cancer screenings

Many smokers seem to be confused about the actual benefits and limitations of lung cancer screenings, according to a study by the VA Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care in Seattle.... (07/24/2018)

Honor thy father

The career of longtime VA clinician-researcher Dr. Stephen Hunt is inspired by the memory of his father, who fought in World War II, and that of three young men who were killed in Vietnam and were the older brothers of his friends.... (07/19/2018)

Lines of communication

Neuroscientists at VA's Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans are using special MRI scans to learn about how different brain regions communicate with each other. The goal is to pinpoint better therapies for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. ... (07/19/2018)

Out and about

At the Baltimore VA Medical Center, Veterans with PTSD have participated in group-based exposure therapy, benefiting from mutual support—and a therapist's guidance—as they tackle group outings such as bus or train rides and restaurant visits.... (07/05/2018)

Researchers urge consumers to do their homework when buying popular supplement probiotics

VA researchers say there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to probiotics. They point to strong evidence that probiotic products must be chosen with a specific strain in mind, well-matched to the health condition being treated.... (06/27/2018)

Study: Demanding, fast-paced military lifestyle may cause women to adopt poor eating habits

VA researchers sought to learn how the unique demands of the military lifestyle had affected the eating habits of 20 female Veterans who had reported changing their eating habits in response to stress while in the service.... (06/27/2018)

Agent Orange presumption policy leads to higher VA health care use

A VA study shows that for Vietnam Veterans, having a medical condition presumed related to Agent Orange exposure is linked to greater use of VA care, as per lawmakers' intent when they passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991.... (06/13/2018)

Gut check

VA scientists seek to learn whether Veterans with Gulf War illness have problems with their gut bacteria. The team is doing a pilot study involving 52 Veterans.... (06/13/2018)

Following VA-led study, FDA approves new drug to diagnose adult growth hormone deficiency

Based on a clinical trial led by a VA investigator, the FDA has approved a drug considered a fast, simple way to determine if a patient has adult growth hormone deficiency. The condition can occur after traumatic brain injury.... (06/12/2018)

Some returning Vets are not breathing easy: Could war-zone dust mites be part of the problem?

A team in Baltimore is studying how dust mites affect respiratory health. Past research suggested they could be among several causes of asthma and other lung disorders among some Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.... (05/31/2018)

Iowa study aims to help Vets with TBI struggling with migraines, light sensitivity

Dr. Levi Sowers, with VA's Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss, is studying post-trauma and migraine headaches. He wants to learn how to use light stimulation and other innovative techniques to ease the pain.... (05/31/2018)

Meditation in motion

VA researchers are studying whether tai chi, an ancient Chinese mind-body therapy, can help relieve the chronic pain, fatigue, and other symptoms experienced by many Gulf War Veterans.... (05/24/2018)

New prostate cancer technologies: Are they worth the price?

New technologies have revolutionized the treatment of prostate cancer. However, the cost-effectiveness of these technologies, compared with more traditional treatments, has not been fully explored.... (05/24/2018)

Study: No difference in effectiveness of stents used in patients with heart disease

A large VA multisite clinical trial has found that two kinds of stents often used in those who have heart bypass surgery are equally effective in preventing heart attacks, cardiac death, and repeat procedures to the arteries of the heart.... (05/16/2018)

Single-tablet HIV treatment shows better outcomes over multi-tablet regimen

IV patients on a single-tablet daily regimen had better outcomes than patients taking multiple pills per day, in a study that included a researcher at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.... (05/16/2018)

Gene variant may increase psychiatric risk after TBI

A gene variant known to predict Alzheimer's risk was linked to worse psychiatric symptoms in those with a traumatic brain injury. Study participants with the gene variant and at least one TBI had more severe PTSD, anxiety, and depression, compared with TBI patients without the same variant. ... (04/25/2018)

Warrior wellness

Innovative research at the Durham VA is exploring the benefits of physical exercise for older Veterans with PTSD. ... (04/25/2018)

Epstein-Barr virus could be cause of multiple autoimmune disorders

The Epstein-Barr virus, best-known for its role in causing mononucleosis, or the "kissing disease," has now been linked to a wide range of autoimmune diseases, ranging from lupus and multiple sclerosis to inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease.... (04/19/2018)

Can older Vets with TBIs benefit from mobile game apps?

A VA pilot study is looking at whether two types of video-game-like apps—a multitasking game and a word-puzzle game—can help improve cognitive health in older Veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury.... (04/18/2018)

Muscling in on muscle loss: DC team seeks new ways to detect, treat sarcopenia

A VA research team in the nation's capital is looking for ways to detect and combat sarcopenia—the gradual drop in muscle mass, strength, and function that comes with aging.... (04/18/2018)

Electronic alerts lower co-prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines

Investigators used VA's electronic medical record system to automatically alert providers prescribing either opioids or benzodiazepine when high-risk patients had prescriptions for the other drug class. Co-prescribing of the two medications dropped for patients with substance use disorder, sleep apnea, and suicide risk... (04/04/2018)

Diabetes detective

Dr. W. Timothy Garvey’s lab team in Birmingham is in hot pursuit of a new diabetes drug that will keep the disease from progressing. One lead they are pursuing is a gene known as TRIB3, shown to be a major driver of insulin resistance. ... (04/04/2018)

Man on a mission

Dr. Harold Koenig and colleagues are exploring whether counseling with a religious or spiritual component can be effective treatment for PTSD—particularly when feelings of moral injury are involved. ... (04/04/2018)

Understanding the impact of PTSD on parenting

A team at VA's Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans examined post-9-11 research on the effects of military PTSD on parenting, child outcomes, and parent-child functioning.... (04/04/2018)

They've got each other's backs

While group therapy sessions for those with issues like PTSD or anger are commonplace at VA hospitals, clinics, and Vet Centers, a research team at the Bronx VA is doing relatively pioneering work by running a group for suicidal Veterans.... (03/28/2018)

Researchers probe integration of mental health services in primary care

VA researchers have been studying the integration of mental health services within primary care. They’ve found that the model, now in place at hundreds of VA clinics nationwide, is improving Veteran access to mental health care as intended. ... (03/28/2018)

Advisory committee key to shaping VA research initiatives

The National Research Advisory Council, or NRAC, was created in 1999 to provide external review of VA’s research mission. The group is one of nearly 30 advisory committees that help guide VA programs and policies.... (03/28/2018)

Studies using electrical stimulation, neuroimaging aim for new insights on TBI, PTSD

VA scientists are studying an experimental electrical brain-stimulation technique, coupled with neuroimaging, to learn how mild traumatic brain injury interacts with PTSD in specific areas of the brain.... (03/28/2018)

'Mystery shopper' model being used to boost VA care

Thanks to the research of Dr. Saul Weiner and colleagues, VA is using “unannounced standardized patients”—similar to the “mystery shoppers” used in retail—to improve care and services for Veterans.... (03/21/2018)

A new battlefront

Researchers are helping VA design and deliver services for homeless women Veterans, or those at risk for becoming homeless—and seeking to understand the factors that drive homelessness in this population... (03/21/2018)

Essential tool or hindrance to communication?

Researchers investigated how physician interaction with the computer during a consultation—mouse clicks, key strokes, and gaze, or looking intently at the screen—impacts patient participation in the discussion.... (03/13/2018)

Many patients show signs of chronic kidney disease before diabetes diagnosis

Many patients who will later be diagnosed with diabetes show signs of chronic kidney disease even before their diabetes diagnosis, according to a study by VA researchers and colleagues in Tennessee. ... (03/13/2018)

Individual Placement and Support more effective than transitional work for Veterans with PTSD

An innovative vocational program, emphasizing individualized placement support, has yielded positive outcomes for Veterans with PTSD in a study involving 541 Vets at 12 VA sites.... (03/01/2018)

The loneliness factor: How much does it drive depression in Veterans?

To what extent does loneliness contribute to depression in Veterans? A VA-funded study has addressed that relatively unexplored question.... (02/28/2018)

VA launches telehealth program for rural Vets with PTSD

VA has launched a pilot telehealth program that will give rural Veterans with PTSD remote access to psychotherapy and related services. The effort builds on years of prior research showing how PTSD therapy can be delivered effectively via video. ... (02/15/2018)

Drug used for PTSD nightmares falls short in large VA trial

The drug prazosin, used widely to help ease PTSD nightmares, did no better than placebo in a large VA trial. Despite the apparent overall failure, the researchers contend there are subgroups of Veterans who do in fact benefit from the treatment. ... (02/08/2018)

Study to focus on women with limb loss

A VA researcher in New York has Department of Defense funding to study the unique physical and psychosocial needs of women living with amputation.... (02/08/2018)

Research rocks for homeless Vets at the Louisville VA

A pilot study at the Louisville VA in Kentucky showed the therapeutic benefit of rocking chairs for homeless Veterans in treatment for substance abuse problems, mainly alcohol addiction.... (02/08/2018)

Researchers develop tool to predict flares in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

VA researchers aim to predict—months in advance—the likelihood of someone with inflammatory bowel disease experiencing intestinal inflammation that requires hospitalization or outpatient steroid treatment... (02/01/2018)

PTSD and accelerated aging: How advanced is the science?

Two Boston-based psychologists with VA's National Center for PTSD are at the forefront of understanding the long-term biological impacts of PTSD, including accelerated aging at the cellular level.... (01/16/2018)

Joining forces

VA and the CDC have partnered to build a research network aimed at learning the best ways to protect patients and employees from infectious diseases in medical settings.... (01/10/2018)

Acid reduction

The Lexington VA Medical Center in Kentucky implemented a stewardship program to monitor the use of proton pump inhibitors—popular antacid drugs that may carry harmful side effects. The team has now reported outcomes from the program.... (12/20/2017)

Deep brain stimulation linked to longer survival for Parkinson's patients

A treatment called deep brain stimulation could slightly extend the life of people with Parkinson's disease. Researchers found that patients who received stimulation via an implanted device had a modest survival advantage compared with those treated with medication only.... (12/20/2017)

Drug that acts like ketamine—but without the potential for abuse or psychotic effects—eases depression in lab tests

Researchers say a drug developed for improving thinking has the ability to act like the drug ketamine, which is being studied for its antidepressant effects, without the problematic side effects associated with ketamine.... (12/08/2017)

Stepping up their game

Thanks to innovative research at the Baltimore VA, older Veterans are making strides—literally—in their ability to move about, stay balanced, prevent falls—and get up from a fall if they do have one... (11/28/2017)

MVP data leads to new finding on ‘resistant hypertension’

Using data from the Million Veteran Program, VA researchers found that a blood pressure condition called resistant hypertension can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and kidney failure.... (11/28/2017)

Largest-ever VA clinical trial enrolls 50,000th Veteran

A VA clinical trial that aims to learn which test is best for colorectal cancer screening enrolled its 50,000th Veteran participant. The trial is the largest single VA-sponsored trial ever.... (11/28/2017)

Program improves cognition, psychiatric symptoms but falls short on employment front

A study has shown that a form of cognitive training can improve thinking ability, psychiatric symptoms, and quality of life in people with severe mental illnesses. But those who received the training fared no better in work outcomes, compared with a control group.... (11/16/2017)

Down on the farm

The organization Growing Veterans, which gets participants involved in agriculture, provides a peaceful and therapeutic experience that can help Veterans reintegrate after deployments.... (11/09/2017)

Brain stimulation technique shows promise in reducing fear in Veterans with PTSD

VA researchers say a non-invasive technique called transcranial direct current stimulation may help lessen PTSD symptoms. Further testing is planned.... (11/09/2017)

Study: Leg implants for paralysis work long-term

Researchers followed up with spinal-cord-injured patients years after the patients had received neuroprosthetic implants that allow them to stand and perform other functions. The systems "provide lasting benefits that recipients value," the study found.... (11/09/2017)

White matter damage linked to chronic musculoskeletal pain in Gulf War Veterans

A study from the Madison VA Hospital in Wisconsin has linked structural damage in the white matter of the brain to chronic musculoskeletal pain in Gulf War Veterans.... (10/26/2017)

Navigating the college experience

The college experience presents challenges for Veterans unlike those facing traditional students. Researchers have noted higher rates of mental health disorders among Veteran students, compared with their non-Vet college peers, and problems for many of these Veterans in adjusting to campus life.... (10/26/2017)

Untangling PTSD

VA's National PTSD Brain Bank is currently storing tissue from 168 brains. The bank aims to help with one of VA's most pressing challenges: understanding the complex nature of PTSD, and pointing the way toward new and better treatments.... (10/19/2017)

Researchers find evidence of DNA damage in Vets with Gulf War illness

VA researchers say they have found the "first direct biological evidence" of damage in Veterans with Gulf War illness to DNA within cellular structures that produce energy in the body.... (10/19/2017)

Finding purpose through community service

Volunteer programs, such as Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues, are helping Vets who are adjusting to life at home find purpose and at the same time are easing their transition back to civilian life.... (10/13/2017)

VA researchers question whether traumatic brain injuries lead to Alzheimer's

Many studies have linked traumatic brain injuries, the signature injury of recent wars, with an increased risk of Alzheimer's. But emerging evidence may shed doubt on that theory, says a new report from a San Francisco VA team.... (10/05/2017)

Parkinson's patients do the tango in hopes of improving walking ability, balance

An Atlanta VA researcher has modified the traditional Argentine tango to serve as a rehabilitation therapy for Veterans and others with Parkinson's disease.... (09/27/2017)

Study shows how community event can spur safe gun storage

Researchers found that community events at which gun owners received education and free locking devices led to higher rates of safe gun storage. The study followed gun-owners who had taken part in firearm-safety events held at sporting-goods stores.... (09/14/2017)

Online tool simplifies complex medical language for patients

VA researchers have created an online resource that helps patients better understand their health care providers' electronic medical notes, which are often written in ways that make them difficult for the average person to comprehend.... (09/14/2017)

Study: Majority of transgender Veterans satisfied with VA care

Most transgender Veterans who use VA health care are satisfied with their care, according to a VA Puget Sound Health Care System study. The findings are based on a survey of nearly 300 transgender Veterans, more than half of whom had used VA care.... (09/06/2017)

VA scientist mentors pair of former Marines in biomedicine, with goal of creating artificial heart

Dr. Ngan Huang, a biomedical engineer at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, currently has two former Marines interning in her lab, and plans to expand the opportunity to other Veterans. ... (08/31/2017)

Probing psychotherapies for PTSD

VA researchers are conducting a head-to-head comparison of two leading psychotherapies for PTSD: prolonged exposure therapy, and cognitive processing therapy. The trial will involve 900 Veterans at nearly 20 VA medical centers nationwide.... (08/30/2017)

Study data lacking on benefits and risks of medical marijuana for chronic pain and PTSD

According to a literature review commissioned by the VA Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, evidence is lacking on the effects of medical marijuana for many types of chronic pain and for PTSD.... (08/24/2017)

Telehealth inhaler training helps Vets with respiratory disease

Most COPD patients use their inhalers incorrectly. VA researchers have now tested a new training technique that offers Veterans home-based one-to-one training with a pharmacist via videoconferencing.... (08/24/2017)

Major VA trial helps answer question of which heart bypass method is better

In a follow-up study in the New England Journal of Medicine, VA researchers report five-year outcomes from more than 2,200 Veterans who underwent heart bypass surgery at 18 VA medical centers. The study offers further insight on the pros and cons of two surgical approaches.... (08/17/2017)

VA employees showcase innovative projects, best practices aimed at helping Vets

VA ingenuity, foresight, and brainpower took center stage on a sunny day in the nation's capital earlier this month. VA innovators from across the country showcased a stream of innovations and quality-improvement initiatives designed to enhance the Veteran experience.... (08/17/2017)

High-dose flu vaccine may lead to fewer hospitalizations

Giving elderly nursing home residents high-dose flu vaccines rather than standard doses could lead to fewer respiratory infections and other illnesses, as reflected in hospital admissions, according to a study led by Providence VA Medical Center researchers... (08/17/2017)

Program helps VA learn about long-term outcomes of Vets with traumatic brain injuries

The VA TBI Model System gathers data on the recovery of Veterans and active-duty military with traumatic brain injuries. It aims to give clinicians, patients, and families a better understanding of how long recovery takes, and what the chances are for returning to work and living independently.... (08/10/2017)

Colorectal cancer screenings higher in Veterans who use VA or military health care

In a study by a team with VA, UCLA and Duke, Veterans with health coverage related to their Veteran status were more likely to have up-to-date screenings for colorectal cancer than Vets who used private health insurance instead.... (08/03/2017)

Career Development workshop helps prime next generation of VA research leaders

VA's Career Development program is one of the most competitive in the nation, and the M.D. and Ph.D. researchers who get funded are considered an elite group. Some 40 of them came to Washington, D.C., for a meeting that was part scientific symposium, part nuts-and-bolts workshop, and part support group.... (08/02/2017)

VA program shows promise in improving safety of drug prescriptions for older patients

VA researchers have launched a quality-improvement initiative to help providers avoid potentially inappropriate medications when prescribing for older Veterans who are discharged from an emergency department.... (08/02/2017)

Study: Yoga helps back pain among Veterans

A study that included 150 Veterans with chronic low back pain found that those who completed a 12-week yoga program had better scores on a disability questionnaire, improved pain intensity scores, and a decline in opioid use. The findings jibe with those from two past clinical trials involving non-Veterans. ... (07/25/2017)

Research links multiple forms of trauma with eating disorders in female Vets

VA research has identified clear ties between trauma and eating disorders in women Veterans. One recent study found that women who reported military sexual trauma were twice as likely to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating.... (07/20/2017)

Researchers pinpoint reductions in brain volume of ill Gulf War Vets

A study at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System has shown a "systematic and significant" reduction in brain volumes of about 10 percent in Vets with Gulf War illness, compared with non-affected Veterans.... (07/20/2017)

Prostate Cancer: Study Finds No Statistical Difference Between Surgery, Observation in Reducing Deaths

A VA-led clinical trial that spanned nearly 20 years has concluded that surgery does not significantly reduce all-cause or prostate cancer deaths for men who are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. The findings should help inform the debate over how best to treat the common cancer.... (07/13/2017)

Don't snore through this: Study aims to highlight risks of sleep apnea in African-Americans—and potential benefits of treatment

A VA study in Chicago is compiling evidence on how CPAP therapy for sleep apnea can benefit a demographic group that has traditionally underused the treatment—African-Americans.... (06/28/2017)

Study explores ways in which melamine, found in household items, can cause kidney damage

A new study from the Calcium Signaling Laboratory at the Washington DC VA Medical Center sheds new light on how melamine, found in tableware and many other plastic products, can contribute toward kidney cell damage and kidney stone formation.... (06/28/2017)

Pain in the neck? Caregiver-assisted massage might pose solution

A new VA study is teaching Veterans’ informal caregivers how to give massages to ease neck pain. A four-hour training is reinforced with a workbook and DVD.... (06/22/2017)

Study suggests possible ties between low cholesterol levels and suicide risk in Vets

Past research suggests a possible link between abnormally low cholesterol and suicide risk. A small study based on data from one VA site indicates the theory may warrant further investigation.... (06/22/2017)

Researcher: U.N. suicide prevention program should be studied among U.S. Veterans

VA researchers assessed suicide prevention methods used around the world by reviewing published trials. They found promising evidence for the World Health Organization's "brief intervention and contact program."... (06/14/2017)

Reckless behavior fuels ongoing stress for some with PTSD

VA researchers found that for those with PTSD, risky and harmful behaviors could lead to more trauma and, in turn, worse PTSD symptoms over time.... (06/14/2017)

Study yields insight on sexual disorder and its effects on Vets

VA researchers have conducted the most thorough study to date on compulsive sexual behavior among Veterans. In the study of 820 recent combat Veterans, almost 14 percent of men and more than 4 percent of women acknowle... (06/07/2017)

Large study assessing needs, experiences of pregnant and postpartum Veterans

Little is known about how women Veterans access and use maternity care during pregnancy and following childbirth. Researchers are thus undertaking one of the most comprehensive VA studies yet on women's maternal health care issues.... (06/07/2017)

Early-life pain may contribute to obesity risk, finds rat study

Researchers found in a study with rats that inflammatory pain at birth changes how the hippocampus works later in life. The change leads to eating more frequently, and in larger amounts.... (06/07/2017)

Addressing the crisis in drug treatment of PTSD

A group of VA researchers has forged a set of recommendations to address what they say is a "crisis" in the area of drug treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder.... (05/30/2017)

On the Hill: VA researchers visit D.C. to show latest rehab technology

VA ingenuity was on display on Capitol Hill on May 16, as researchers showed off new technologies that can potentially improve the lives of Veterans and others with limb loss or neurological disorders such as paralysis.... (05/30/2017)

Treating liver cancer: Access to 'best care' critical to survival

Liver cancer is a complex disease that must be treated by multiple specialists working in concert. A VA study looked at challenges in expanding optimal care for Veterans with the disease, and at some promising solutions.... (05/24/2017)

Lithium, long used for other brain conditions, may hold promise for TBI

A VA lab group in Pittsburgh is studying how the drug lithium affects the release of neurotransmitters after traumatic brain injury. They hope to generate evidence to support a future clinical trial. ... (05/18/2017)

New app will target Veterans in cardiac rehab

A new app aims to help Veterans with a recent heart attack or other heart problem who are in a medically supervised exercise and lifestyle program... (05/11/2017)

Knee popping? You may be at risk for arthritis

Noisy knees—or crepitus, in medical jargon—may be a warning sign of worsening osteoarthritis for some people, suggests a new VA study.... (05/11/2017)

Standing tall

VA researchers are studying the ReWalk robotic exoskeleton and its impact on quality of life. They are enrolling 160 Veterans with spinal cord injury at 10 VA sites.... (05/11/2017)

Gestational diabetes and preeclampsia rates higher in women with PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder may be a risk factor for two common pregnancy complications, according to a VA study. Women Veterans with PTSD receiving care in the VA health care system had higher rates of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia than those without PTSD.... (04/26/2017)

Studies probe pre-suicide contact with mental health care among Vets, soldiers

Two recent studies examined the phenomenon of Veterans and service members taking their lives shortly after contact with mental health providers. One points to high risk in the week following discharge from a psychiatric unit. The other study says many soldiers who die by suicide access health care shortly before death.... (04/26/2017)

Press 1 for relief: Phone system shows promise in easing low back pain

To help Veterans with chronic low back pain, VA researchers tested cognitive behavioral therapy delivered through an interactive voice response phone system to the patients in their homes. The approach worked just as well as in-person therapy.... (04/26/2017)

A measured approach to mental health care

One of the goals of VA’s QUERI for Team-Based Behavioral Health is to expand the use of measurement in VA mental health care. The focus is on using patient-reported measures consistently throughout treatment... (04/20/2017)

On the frontlines of diabetes prevention

Researchers compared two VA programs aimed at helping overweight or obese Veterans achieve a healthier weight and ideally stave off diabetes, which affects nearly 1 in 4 VA patients.... (04/20/2017)

Heavy versus light drinking: What are the relative effects on performance years later?

Heavy drinkers develop behavioral tolerance to alcohol over time on some fine motor tasks, but not on more complex tasks, suggests a study led by a VA San Diego Healthcare System researcher. ... (04/10/2017)

Launching VA lung cancer screening program is 'complex, challenging'

According to a recent VA study, developing and implementing a comprehensive lung-cancer screening program for the nearly 900,000 Veterans who are eligible is "complex and challenging, requiring new tools and patient care processes for staff, as well as dedicated patient coordination."... (04/05/2017)

VA surgeon researching cell-based tools to create artificial kidney

Dr. Jason Wertheim, a surgeon and biomedical engineer at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, is leading a bioengineering effort to develop tissue for a replacement kidney and thus circumvent the problem of organ shortage.... (03/23/2017)

Testosterone therapy: Is the verdict now in?

A landmark seven-part study funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging called the Testosterone Trials (TTrials) has produced mixed results.... (03/23/2017)

Study: Electroacupuncture eases pain through stem-cell release

A series of tests involving humans, horses, and rodents has provided the most thorough picture yet of how electroacupuncture—a modern version of the ancient Chinese healing art—eases pain and promotes tissue repair. The study included a VA researcher and more than 40 other clinicians and scientists.... (03/16/2017)

Probing the value of peer mentors for homeless Veterans

A recently published VA study explored the role of peer mentors—in this case, Veterans who were once homeless themselves—in improving the health outcomes of currently homeless Veterans.... (03/16/2017)

Study points to myelin changes as early marker of Alzheimer's

A VA study suggests that changes in myelin, a fatty white substance in the central nervous system that surrounds nerve fibers, may be a very early sign of Alzheimer's disease.... (03/16/2017)

Study shows how H. pylori causes white blood cells to morph

VA researchers and colleagues in Iowa showed in a lab study how neutrophils—the most common type of white blood cell—undergo changes when infected by the common pathogen H. pylori. The team is the first to demonstrate such changes in cells isolated from human blood.... (03/09/2017)

Blood pressure drug found to be better for bones, versus other treatments

A large database study by a team including a VA investigator shows that one of the drugs frequently given to combat high blood pressure, chlorthalidone, may also improve bone strength and cut the risk of osteoporotic fractures.... (02/28/2017)

What happens when patients access their mental health providers' notes?

Thanks to electronic health records and online portals, more and more patients have access to the notes their clinicians write about their health care visits. A study from one VA site offers insight into the potential for this feature, known as OpenNotes, to help—or hurt—patients' trust in their mental health clinicians.... (02/28/2017)

Chemical shows promise in subduing joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

VA and Stanford University researchers have tested a chemical compound that works to prevent an initial phase of tissue inflammation and improve the immune system. They say it holds promise for those with rheumatoid arthritis, in particular.... (02/16/2017)

VA-Defense study aims to track mild TBI over decades

VA and Defense researchers are enrolling at least 1,100 service members and Veterans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan to learn more about mild traumatic brain injury and how it can be best evaluated, and perhaps prevented and treated.... (02/09/2017)

An alternative theory on how aspirin may thwart cancer

Many studies have pointed to a role for aspirin in cancer prevention. Scientists have been unsure how the drug works in this regard, although they usually cite aspirin’s anti-inflammatory effect. New lab studies by VA researchers and colleagues point to a different mechanism at play. ... (02/07/2017)

Program aims to help those with diabetes fend off foot ulcers

Researchers at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System are seeking new ways to prevent the recurrence of foot ulcers in Veterans with diabetes. The problem is a leading cause of amputation... (02/07/2017)

Exploring the link between trauma and disordered eating for female Vets

A qualitative study involving a small group of female Veterans explored how military trauma that is related to such conditions as depression and PTSD can trigger disordered eating, a wide range of abnormal eating behaviors... (02/02/2017)

VA orthopedist hopes biologic disc will serve as cure for degenerative disease

VA researchers in Philadelphia are targeting degenerative disc disease with a lab-grown “biological disc” they say would act like a healthy, natural disc when transplanted into the body... (02/02/2017)

Light-based process could lead to new glaucoma treatments

In VA-funded work aimed at finding better treatments for glaucoma, researchers are using optogenetics, a new technique that relies on light to control the behavior of proteins or cells in living tissue. ... (01/19/2017)

Study finds wide, if uneven, use of PTSD psychotherapies in VA

A review of VA research studies has confirmed the widespread use in VA of two evidence-based psychotherapies to treat PTSD. But at the same time, the review points to inconsistencies in how the therapies are applied. ... (01/19/2017)

When non-adherence to guidelines is a good thing: Study on COPD yields surprising results

A study at the Northport VA Medical Center in Long Island, New York, offers a glimpse at what happens when doctors’ clinical intuition collides with the guidelines they are supposed to follow.... (01/19/2017)

Building a better denture

VA researchers are collaborating on a new antifungal denture that fights stomatitis, a recurring mouth infection that plagues denture wearers.... (01/11/2017)

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