Office of Research & Development

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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
 

New Initiatives

Phase 2 of Women Veterans Cohort Study Begins


A Naval Academy midshipman crawls through the mud during
A Naval Academy midshipman crawls through the mud during "Sea Trials" at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006. (Photo by Petty Officer James Pinsky/USN)

A Naval Academy midshipman crawls through the mud during "Sea Trials" at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006. (Photo by Petty Officer James Pinsky/USN)

The proportion of women in the military, their roles, and their exposure to combat changed dramatically during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. VA researchers are studying the impact of these changes on women's health outcomes, their health care needs, and the utilization of the VA health care system.

From November 2007 through October 2012, researchers at the West Haven Campus of the VA Connecticut Health Care System conducted a study of administrative and clinical data from the electronic health records of more than 900,000 Veterans, and surveyed nearly 700 Veterans.

The researchers found that women Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have higher pharmacy and outpatient costs than male Veterans. The team's work has provided a foundation for additional research related to pain and musculoskeletal conditions in women Veterans. Their findings on pregnancy and mental health in women Veterans helped to shape national policy requiring the coordination of maternity care, and influenced the development of a national initiative on reproductive mental health.

In July 2014, VA funded a new study of these Veterans, designed to longitudinally identify the predictors and psychiatric and psychosocial modifiers of painful musculoskeletal conditions, mental health conditions, and cardiovascular disease. The West Haven research team, headed by Dr. Sally Haskell, will also look at treatment patterns and barriers to care for those conditions. The researchers hope to determine patterns of disease onset and progression in women Veterans in each of these areas.

In addition to using data from the previously completed study, the team will conduct new surveys and focus groups at sites throughout the nation. The study is funded by VA's Office of Health Services Research & Development through June 2018.


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