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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
This Issue: Care for Returning Service Members | Table of Contents: Winter 2016 |

From the Acting Chief Research and Development Officer


ChangIt is appropriate that my first message to readers of this publication as acting chief research and development officer (CRADO) is on the subject of caring for returning service members.

This is because restoring ill and injured Veterans from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to their highest levels of functioning and helping to create the best quality of life possible for them when they return home are two of the most important challenges VA researchers face today.

This issue of VA Research Quarterly Update is filled with the accomplishments of our researchers. Let me, however, cite the work of five initiatives in particular that I believe are of special importance to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and their families.

  Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Komla Amewouame meets his daughter for the first time after returning to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 2015 after a seven-month deployment on the USS Chafee. (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/USN)
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Komla Amewouame meets his daughter for the first time after returning to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 2015 after a seven-month deployment on the USS Chafee. (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/USN)

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Komla Amewouame meets his daughter for the first time after returning to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 2015 after a seven-month deployment on the USS Chafee. (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/USN)

Three of these programs are part of our Collaborative Research to Enhance and Advance Transformation and Excellence (CREATE) initiative. A CREATE is a group of coordinated research projects conducted by teams of collaborating investigators in partnership with others in the VA health care system, such as clinical managers. Each project is scientifically meritorious and addresses a distinct but complementary area of investigation.

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine reported that as many as one-third of all Americans experience persistent pain, with Veterans being an especially vulnerable group. Our Pain Management and Patient Aligned Care CREATE is enhancing Veterans' access to scientifically validated, guideline-adherent pain care. This CREATE also seeks to leverage health-information technology to promote better pain care for Veterans, and to build sustainable improvements in this area.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that can occur after a traumatic and dangerous event, such as a physical assault, combat, or other war-zone exposures. The Evidence-Based Therapies for PTSD CREATE is testing an innovative Web-based tool for families to promote Veteran involvement in treatment for PTSD and for problem drinking. It is also testing strategies to link women Veterans with VA health care; helping VA outpatient care providers be more competent in PTSD pharmacotherapy; and improving the reach of evidence-based therapies among Veterans with PTSD.

Finally, substance use disorders (SUDs) have substantial negative consequences on Veterans' mental and physical health, work performance, housing status, and social functioning. The Promoting Value and Access in VA's Substance Use Disorder Services CREATE is finding answers on how SUD treatment services should be funded and whether staffing levels influence outcomes. The CREATE team is testing a Web-based alcohol intervention to reduce alcohol consumption in Veterans with hepatitis C; validating new measures of the quality of addiction treatment; and looking at ways to improve care transitions and outcomes among Veterans who have undergone detoxification for SUDs.

VA's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) supports the rapid implementation of effective clinical practices, as determined by research, into routine care. Two QUERIs of special importance to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and their families are the Improving Pain-Related Outcomes for Veterans QUERI (IMPROVE), aimed at supporting safe and effective pain management; and the Caregiver Support (VA-CARES) Evaluation Initiative QUERI, which evaluates the impact of the support that VA provides to family caregivers.

These research groups and many others are helping to improve the lives of Veterans and all Americans through health care discovery and innovation. I am honored to serve as acting CRADO and look forward to the opportunity to help advance these efforts.

Kyong-Mi Chang, M.D.
Acting Chief Research and Development Officer


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