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Women Veterans’ Perspectives on Suicide Prevention in Reproductive Health Care Settings: An Acceptable, Desired, Unmet Opportunity

  • Claire A. Hoffmire
    Correspondence
    Correspondence to: Claire A Hoffmire, PhD, Rocky Mountain MIRECC, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, 1700 N. Wheeling Street, Building G3, Room 189, Aurora, CO 80045.
    Affiliations
    Rocky Mountain Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Aurora, Colorado

    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Lisa A. Brenner
    Affiliations
    Rocky Mountain Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Aurora, Colorado

    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado

    Department of Neurology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Jodie Katon
    Affiliations
    Health Services Research and Development Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington

    Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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  • Laurel A. Gaeddert
    Affiliations
    Rocky Mountain Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Christin N. Miller
    Affiliations
    Rocky Mountain Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Alexandra L. Schneider
    Affiliations
    Rocky Mountain Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Aurora, Colorado
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  • Lindsey L. Monteith
    Affiliations
    Rocky Mountain Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Aurora, Colorado

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado
    Search for articles by this author
Published:March 08, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2022.01.003

      Abstract

      Background

      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.

      Methods

      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.

      Results

      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.

      Conclusions

      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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      Biography

      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.

      Biography

      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.

      Biography

      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.

      Biography

      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.

      Biography

      Christin Miller, MPH, is a Data Analyst at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention.

      Biography

      Alexandra Schneider, BA, is a Data Analyst at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention and Data Manager for the ASPIRE Lab.

      Biography

      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.