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This Issue: Ensuring High-Quality Care | Table of Contents: Fall 2017 | Download this issue

From the Chief Research and Development Officer

Research underlies high-quality patient care

Rachel B. Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D Rachel B. Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D.
Chief Research and Development Officer

One of the primary goals at the Office of Research and Development is to ensure that our research translates into improving health care for our Veterans. In so doing, we are joined with many initiatives that are focused on providing high-quality care.

One example is the Veterans Crisis Line, which provides immediate telephone access, 24/7, to skilled responders trained in suicide intervention. It is only one of the ways that VA is addressing the critical problem of Veteran suicide. In partnership with Johnson & Johnson, VA recently launched its #BeThere suicide prevention campaign to encourage everyone in the community to "be there" for Veterans who are going through a difficult time.

In this issue of VARQU, we highlight research from several state-of-the art conferences that brought VA investigators and their academic partners together to share best practices and brainstorm new research and clinical applications.

The October 2017 special edition of Brain Injury features research and commentary growing out of the 2015 VA traumatic brain injury (TBI) conference. Review articles by VA researchers cover topics ranging from fluid biomarkers of TBI to neuroimaging of deployment-associated TBI to clinical practice guidelines for treatment of TBI. Investigators also discuss the important role that family plays in taking care of Veterans with TBI. While it can be rewarding to care for a family member with TBI, it can also cause financial and emotional difficulties. It is an injury that affects the whole family. That's why VA is investigating additional ways to support family caretakers.

In our "Chat with the Experts" feature, VARQU speaks with Dr. Steve Martino and Dr. Marc Rosen, researchers at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. They are co-investigators on a study that looks at the effectiveness of a brief pain intervention that is delivered when Veterans report for a VA compensation and pension exam. Oftentimes, Veterans are not aware of the range of health services that VA can provide. By reaching out to Vets early, investigators hope to cut short unhelpful ways of dealing with pain, like substance misuse.

In an interview with Dr. Melissa Garrido, a Career Development Awardee, VARQU highlights her work on palliative care in seriously ill Veterans. She is a researcher and health economist at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. In light of the growing numbers of Veterans who are aging, there will be more need for palliative care for patients with a life-limiting illness like metastatic cancer or advanced heart failure. Because many Veterans experience mental illness along with serious physical illness, Dr. Garrido is investigating the effects of providing counseling for depression and anxiety in the ICU setting.

Also in this issue of VARQU, we summarize a number of editorials that bring light to the many ways VA is improving the quality of care we provide for our Veterans. In one such piece, Dr. Hal Wortzel at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC in Denver and his coauthors maintain that suicide risk assessment is still a useful tool as part of an integrated approach to suicide prevention. At the MIRECC, Dr. Wortzel and his colleagues pair innovative suicide risk assessment with concurrent mental health evaluation and treatment. By doing so, they are bringing all of the tools available to them to address the tragically high rates of Veteran suicide.

As President Abraham Lincoln said so long ago, it is our solemn charge "to care for him who shall have borne the battle ..." We are committed to continually improving the care that we provide our Veterans. And one important way that we do that is through research.

Rachel B. Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D.

Chief Research and Development Officer

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