Project Background: Women Veterans are the fastest growing segment of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) users. This dramatic growth has created challenges for VHA. Gender disparities persist in cardiovascular (CV) and diabetes risk factor control, and rates of depression, anxiety, and mental health comorbidity are disproportionately high among women Veterans. Furthermore, a high rate of women Veterans' attrition from VA care, along with organizational barriers to care, substantiate that organizational changes are needed in order to engage and retain women Veteran VHA users in evidence-based, patient-centered care. Project Objectives: The Enhancing Mental and Physical health of Women through Engagement and Retention (EMPOWER) QUERI addresses VHA Blueprint for Excellence Strategy 6, by advancing personalized, proactive, patient-centered care models, and Transformational Strategy 7.2.g by implementation of innovative care models in women Veterans' health care. The EMPOWER QUERI Program is designed to improve women Veterans' engagement and retention in evidence-based care for three high priority health conditions, i.e., prediabetes, cardiovascular, and mental health. To achieve this impact goal, we propose a cohesive portfolio of projects with the following aims: (1) To use an evidence-based implementation strategy that emphasizes local tailoring of care models, multilevel stakeholder engagement, and systematic evaluation of complex implementation processes in order to enrich organizational capacity for innovations in women Veterans' VHA health care; (2) To implement personalized, proactive, patient-centered innovations in VHA women's health that are acceptable, feasible, satisfactory, relevant, and effective for both providers and patients, thereby encouraging women Veterans' engagement and retention and sustainability of the innovations; and, (3) To generate implementation playbooks for our partners that are scalable and serve as guidance for future implementation of a broader array of evidence-based women's health programs and policy. Project Methods: Three projects will be conducted by an experienced multidisciplinary team. Tailoring VA's Diabetes Prevention Program to Women Veterans' Needs is a one-year QI project to be conducted in VA Greater Los Angeles women's health clinics. Women Veterans with prediabetes will select an in-person, peer- led or online gender-specific, evidence-based diabetes prevention program to address their risk behaviors and health conditions. Facilitating Cardiovascular Risk Screening and Risk Reduction in Women Veterans will increase identification of CV risk among women Veterans, enhance patient/provider communication and shared decision-making about CV risk, and provide a supportive, coordinated health coaching intervention to facilitate women Veterans' engagement and retention in appropriate health services. Implementation of Tailored Collaborative Care for Women Veterans will evaluate implementation of an evidence-based collaborative care model tailored to enhance provider- and system-level capabilities to address women Veterans' anxiety and depression treatment needs, thereby improving organizational primary care-mental health integration (PC-MHI) effectiveness and women Veterans' engagement and retention in PC-MHI. Both implementation research studies will use a modified stepped wedge design and will apply the evidence-based Replicating Effective Programs (REP) implementation strategy. Mixed methods implementation evaluations will focus on investigating primary implementation outcomes of adoption, acceptability, feasibility, and reach. Multilevel stakeholder engagement will be prioritized. Program-wide organizational-, provider-, and patient- level measures and tools will be utilized to enhance synergy, productivity, and impact. As a coherent program of women's health implementation research and quality improvement, the proposed EMPOWER QUERI will constitute a major milestone in achieving BPE strategies and realizing women Veterans' engagement and, ultimately, empowerment in our VHA system.

Public Health Relevance

Women Veterans are the fastest growing segment of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) users. This dramatic growth has created challenges for VHA because women Veterans have distinctive healthcare needs that the system needs to accommodate. The Enhancing Mental and Physical health of Women through Engagement and Retention (EMPOWER) QUERI uses implementation science to guide three projects that address high priority health conditions among women Veterans (cardiovascular risk, prediabetes, and anxiety and depression). The projects focus on tailoring evidence-based care models so that they are patient-centered, proactive, and personalized, while feasible for VHA providers to deliver. The goal is to engage and retain women Veterans in these care models in order to achieve positive health outcomes and, ultimately, empowerment of women Veterans in their own health care.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veterans Administration (IP1)
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VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Los Angeles
United States
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