Women veterans of reproductive age experience a suicide rate more than double their civilian peers. Developing effective suicide prevention strategies for women veterans requires identifying settings frequented by women veterans where acceptable prevention initiatives can be implemented. Reproductive health care (RHC) settings may provide such an opportunity.
We conducted semi-structured interviews with 21 cisgender women veterans of reproductive age using RHC services provided or paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to understand their beliefs, attitudes, and preferences regarding suicide risk assessment and prevention within these settings. Interview analysis was inductive and used a thematic analysis framework.
Four major themes emerged from the interviews: 1) positive patient-provider relationships in RHC settings are important; 2) some women veterans prefer women providers for RHC and suicide risk screening; 3) women veterans’ experiences with VA suicide risk screening and assessment vary; and 4) suicide risk screening and prevention in RHC settings is a desired and acceptable, yet unmet opportunity.
Findings from this novel study suggest that VA RHC settings may present a viable milieu for implementing upstream, gender-sensitive, veteran-centric suicide prevention strategies. Future research is needed with VA RHC providers to determine their needs for successfully implementing such strategies.
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Claire Hoffmire, PhD, Epidemiologist, co-leads the Advancing Suicide PreventIon for UndeRserved VEterans (ASPIRE) Lab at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention, and is Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her research focuses on reducing suicide among historically underrepresented veterans, including women veterans.
Lisa Brenner, PhD, Psychologist, is Director of the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention, and Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her primary area of research is traumatic brain injury, comorbid psychiatric disorders, and negative psychiatric outcomes, including suicide.
Jodie Katon, PhD, Epidemiologist, is an Investigator at the VA COIN for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care and a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Her research focuses on improving reproductive health care services for women veterans.
Laurel Gaeddert, BS, is a Research Study Coordinator at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention. She manages research studies focused on suicide prevention for veterans, including women veterans.
Christin Miller, MPH, is a Data Analyst at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention.
Alexandra Schneider, BA, is a Data Analyst at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention and Data Manager for the ASPIRE Lab.
Lindsey Monteith, PhD, Psychologist, co-leads the ASPIRE Lab at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention and is Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her research aims to ensure that suicide prevention initiatives are patient centered, gender sensitive, and trauma informed.
Published online: March 08, 2022
Accepted: January 12, 2022
Received in revised form: January 7, 2022
Received: March 1, 2021
Funding for this project was supported, in part, by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Services Research and Development, Grant/Award Number: 1I21HX002526–01A1) and the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or policy of the VA or the United States Government.
Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, George Washington University.