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2.
Semin Oncol ; 49(5): 363-370, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2133716

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been a constant health threat since its emergence. Amongst risk factors proposed, a diagnosis of cancer has been worrisome. We report the impact of cancer and other risk factors in US Veterans receiving care at Veterans Administration (VA) Hospitals, their adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for infection and death, and report on the impact of vaccines on the incidence and severity of COVID-19 infections in Veterans without/with cancer. METHODS: We conducted a cohort study of US Veterans without/with cancer by mining VA COVID-19 Shared Data Resource (CSDR) data using the VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI). Our observation period includes index dates from 14DEC2020 to 25JAN2022, encompassing both the delta and omicron waves in the US. RESULTS: We identified 915,928 Veterans, 24% of whom were African Americans who had undergone COVID testing-688,541 were and 227,387 were not vaccinated. 157,072 had a cancer diagnosis in the preceding two years. Age emerged as the major risk factor, with gender, BMI, and (Elixhauser) comorbidity contributing less. Among veterans with solid tumors other than lung cancer, risks of infection and death within 60 days were comparable to Veterans without cancer. However, those with hematologic malignancies fared worse. Vaccination was highly effective across all cancer cohorts; the respective rates of infection and death after infection were 8% and 5% among the vaccinated compared to 47% and 10% in the unvaccinated. Amongst vaccinated, increased risk of infection was noted in both, Veterans with hematologic malignancy treated with chemotherapy (HR, 2.993, P < 0.0001) or targeted therapies (HR, 1.781, P < 0.0001), and in solid tumors treated with either chemotherapy (HR 2.328, 95%CI 2.075-2.611, P < 0.0001) or targeted therapies (HR 1.328, P < 0.0001) when compared to those not on treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Risk for COVID-19 infection and death from infection vary based on cancer type and therapies administered. Importantly and encouragingly, the duration of protection from infection following vaccination in Veterans with a diagnosis of cancer was remarkably like those without a cancer diagnosis. Veterans with hematologic malignancies are especially vulnerable, with lower vaccine effectiveness (VE).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hematologic Neoplasms , Vaccines , Veterans , Humans , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Incidence , Cohort Studies , Prospective Studies , COVID-19 Testing
3.
JAMA Netw Open ; 5(11): e2241434, 2022 Nov 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2118223

ABSTRACT

Importance: Older adults and individuals with medical comorbidities are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Several pharmacotherapies demonstrated to reduce the risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization and death have been authorized for use. Objective: To describe factors associated with receipt of outpatient COVID-19 pharmacotherapies in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Design, Settings, and Participants: This cohort study assessed outpatient veterans with risk factors for severe COVID-19 who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during January and February 2022. The setting was the VA health care system, the largest integrated health care system in the US. Exposures: Demographic characteristics, place of residence, underlying medical conditions, and COVID-19 vaccination. Main Outcomes and Measures: The odds of receipt of any COVID-19 pharmacotherapy, including sotrovimab, nirmatrelvir boosted with ritonavir, molnupiravir, or remdesivir were estimated using multivariable logistic regression. Results: Among 111 717 veterans included in this study (median [IQR] age, 60 [46-72] years; 96 482 [86.4%] male, 23 362 [20.9%] Black, 10 740 [9.6%] Hispanic, 75 973 [68.0%] White) who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during January to February 2022, 4233 (3.8%) received any COVID-19 pharmacotherapy, including 2870 of 92 396 (3.1%) in January and 1363 of 19 321 (7.1%) in February. Among a subset of 56 285 veterans with documented COVID-19-related symptoms in the 30 days preceding a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, 3079 (5.5%) received any COVID-19 pharmacotherapy. Untreated veterans had a median (IQR) age of 60 (46-71) years and a median (IQR) of 3 (2-5) underlying medical conditions. Veterans receiving any treatment were more likely to be older (aged 65 to 74 years vs 50 to 64 years: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.66 [95% CI, 1.52-1.80]; aged at least 75 years vs 50 to 64 years: aOR, 1.67 [95% CI, 1.53-1.84]) and have a higher number of underlying conditions (at least 5 conditions vs 1 to 2 conditions: aOR, 2.17 [95% CI, 1.98-2.39]). Compared with White veterans, Black veterans (aOR, 0.65 [95% CI, 0.60-0.72]) were less likely to receive treatment; and compared with non-Hispanic veterans, Hispanic veterans (aOR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.77-0.99]) were less likely to receive treatment. There were 16 546 courses of sotrovimab, nirmatrelvir, and molnupiravir allocated across the VA during this period. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study of veterans who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during January and February when supply of outpatient COVID-19 pharmacotherapies was limited, prescription of these pharmacotherapies was underused, and many veterans with risk factors for severe COVID-19 did not receive treatment. Veterans from minority racial and ethnic groups were less likely to receive any pharmacotherapy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Veterans , Male , Humans , Aged , Middle Aged , Female , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/drug therapy , Cohort Studies , COVID-19 Vaccines
4.
Am J Prev Med ; 63(6): 1026-1030, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2117343

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Fewer cancer diagnoses have been made during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic-related delays in cancer diagnosis could occur from limited access to care or patient evaluation delays (e.g., delayed testing after abnormal results). Follow-up of abnormal test results warranting evaluation for cancer was examined before and during the pandemic. METHODS: Electronic trigger algorithms were applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs electronic health record data to assess follow-up of abnormal test results before (March 10, 2019-March 7, 2020) and during (March 8, 2020-March 6, 2021) the pandemic. RESULTS: Electronic triggers were applied to 8,021,406 veterans' electronic health records to identify follow-up delays for abnormal results warranting evaluation for 5 cancers: bladder (urinalysis with high-grade hematuria), breast (abnormal mammograms), colorectal (positive fecal occult blood tests/fecal immunochemical tests or results consistent with iron deficiency anemia), liver (elevated alpha-fetoprotein), and lung (chest imaging suggestive of malignancy) cancers. Between prepandemic and pandemic periods, test quantities decreased by 12.6%-27.8%, and proportions of abnormal results lacking follow-up decreased for urinalyses (-0.8%), increased for fecal occult blood tests/fecal immunochemical test (+2.3%) and chest imaging (+1.8%), and remained constant for others. Follow-up times decreased for most tests; however, control charts suggested increased delays at 2 stages: early (pandemic beginning) for urinalyses, mammograms, fecal occult blood tests/fecal immunochemical test, iron deficiency anemia, and chest imaging and late (30-45 weeks into pandemic) for mammograms, fecal occult blood tests/fecal immunochemical test, and iron deficiency anemia. CONCLUSIONS: Although early pandemic delays in follow-up may have led to reduced cancer rates, the significant decrease in tests performed is likely a large driver of these reductions. Future emergency preparedness efforts should bolster essential follow-up and testing procedures to facilitate timely cancer diagnosis.


Subject(s)
Anemia , COVID-19 , Neoplasms , Veterans , Humans , United States/epidemiology , COVID-19/diagnosis , Pandemics , Neoplasms/diagnosis
5.
BMJ Open Qual ; 11(4)2022 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2116671

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) with faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is effective at reducing CRC mortality. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with deferred care, especially screening for CRC. AIM: We sought to develop a mailed FIT programme (MFP) to increase CRC screening and make recommendations for adoption across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and for other large healthcare systems. SETTING: 2 regional VA medical centres in California and Washington state. PARTICIPANTS: 5667 average risk veterans aged 50-75 overdue or due within 90 days for CRC screening. PROGRAMME DESCRIPTION: A multidisciplinary implementation team collaborated to mail an FIT kit to eligible veterans. Both sites mailed a primer postcard, and one site added an automated reminder call. PROGRAMME EVALUATION: We monitored FIT return and positivity rate, as well as impact of the programme on clinical staff. 34% of FIT kits were returned within 90 days and 7.8% were abnormal. DISCUSSION: We successfully implemented a population-based MFP at multiple regional VA sites and recommend that these efforts be spread across VA. Our model of regional leadership, facility champions and using centralised resources can be adaptable to other large healthcare systems. MFPs support catch-up from disrupted care by addressing access to CRC screening, unburden primary care visits and conserve limited procedural resources.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Colorectal Neoplasms , Veterans , Humans , Early Detection of Cancer , Pandemics , Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis , Colorectal Neoplasms/epidemiology
7.
J Gen Intern Med ; 37(15): 3839-3847, 2022 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2104075

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Deaths from pneumonia were decreasing globally prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is unclear whether this was due to changes in patient populations, illness severity, diagnosis, hospitalization thresholds, or treatment. Using clinical data from the electronic health record among a national cohort of patients initially diagnosed with pneumonia, we examined temporal trends in severity of illness, hospitalization, and short- and long-term deaths. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort PARTICIPANTS: All patients >18 years presenting to emergency departments (EDs) at 118 VA Medical Centers between 1/1/2006 and 12/31/2016 with an initial clinical diagnosis of pneumonia and confirmed by chest imaging report. EXPOSURES: Year of encounter. MAIN MEASURES: Hospitalization and 30-day and 90-day mortality. Illness severity was defined as the probability of each outcome predicted by machine learning predictive models using age, sex, comorbidities, vital signs, and laboratory data from encounters during years 2006-2007, and similar models trained on encounters from years 2015 to 2016. We estimated the changes in hospitalizations and 30-day and 90-day mortality between the first and the last 2 years of the study period accounted for by illness severity using time covariate decompositions with model estimates. RESULTS: Among 196,899 encounters across the study period, hospitalization decreased from 71 to 63%, 30-day mortality 10 to 7%, 90-day mortality 16 to 12%, and 1-year mortality 29 to 24%. Comorbidity risk increased, but illness severity decreased. Decreases in illness severity accounted for 21-31% of the decrease in hospitalizations, and 45-47%, 32-24%, and 17-19% of the decrease in 30-day, 90-day, and 1-year mortality. Findings were similar among underrepresented patients and those with only hospital discharge diagnosis codes. CONCLUSIONS: Outcomes for community-onset pneumonia have improved across the VA healthcare system after accounting for illness severity, despite an increase in cases and comorbidity burden.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pneumonia , Veterans , Humans , United States/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , Pandemics , COVID-19/therapy , Hospitalization , Patient Acuity , Hospitals
9.
PLoS One ; 17(10): e0275774, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2089416

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains a significant treatment challenge among Canadian veterans. Currently accessible pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for PTSD often do not lead to resolution of PTSD as a categorical diagnosis and have significant non-response rates. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), a complementary and integrative health (CIH) intervention, can improve symptoms of PTSD. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this intervention has pivoted to virtual delivery and may be reaching new sets of participants who face multiple barriers to care. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of virtually delivered Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) on decreasing PTSD symptom severity, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain, and improving quality of life in Canadian veterans affected by PTSD. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Using a mixed-methods approach guided by the RE-AIM framework, we will conduct a hybrid type II effectiveness and implementation study of virtually delivered Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) for Canadian veterans. Effectiveness will be evaluated by comparing virtually delivered SKY to a waitlist control in a single-blinded (investigator and data analyst) randomized controlled trial (RCT). Change in PTSD symptoms (PCL-5) is the primary outcome and quality of life (SF-36), symptoms of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7), and pain (BPI) are secondary outcomes. The SKY intervention will be conducted over a 6-week period with assessments at baseline, 6-weeks, 12-weeks, and 30 weeks. The reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of the intervention will be evaluated through one-on-one semi-structured interviews with RCT participants, SKY instructors, health professionals, and administrators that work with veterans. DISCUSSION: This is the first investigation of the virtual delivery of SKY for PTSD in veterans and aims to determine if the intervention is effective and implementable at scale.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic , Veterans , Yoga , Humans , Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/epidemiology , Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , Canada/epidemiology , Pain , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
10.
JAMA Netw Open ; 5(10): e2238507, 2022 10 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2084943

ABSTRACT

Importance: Patients from racially and ethnically minoritized populations, such as Black and Hispanic patients, may be less likely to receive evidence-based COVID-19 treatments than White patients, contributing to adverse clinical outcomes. Objective: To determine whether clinical treatments and outcomes among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were associated with race. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study was conducted in 130 Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) between March 1, 2020, and February 28, 2022, with a 60-day follow-up period until May 1, 2022. Participants included veterans hospitalized with COVID-19. Data were analyzed from May 6 to June 2, 2022. Exposures: Self-reported race. Main Outcomes and Measures: Clinical care processes (eg, intensive care unit [ICU] admission; organ support measures, including invasive and noninvasive mechanical ventilation; prone position therapy, and COVID-19-specific medical treatments) were quantified. Clinical outcomes of interest included in-hospital mortality, 60-day mortality, and 30-day readmissions. Outcomes were assessed with multivariable random effects logistic regression models to estimate the association of race with outcomes not attributable to known mediators, such as socioeconomic status and age, while adjusting for potential confounding between outcomes and mediators. Results: A total of 43 222 veterans (12 135 Black veterans [28.1%]; 31 087 White veterans [71.9%]; 40 717 [94.2%] men) with a median (IQR) age of 71 (62-77) years who were hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 infection were included. Controlling for site of treatment, Black patients were equally likely to be admitted to the ICU (4806 Black patients [39.6%] vs 13 427 White patients [43.2%]; within-center adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.95; 95% CI, 0.88-1.02; P = .17). Two-thirds of patients treated with supplemental oxygen or noninvasive or invasive mechanical ventilation also received systemic steroids, but Black veterans were less likely to receive steroids (within-center aOR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.80-0.96; P = .004; between-center aOR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.48-0.96; P = .03). Similarly, Black patients were less likely to receive remdesivir (within-center aOR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.83-0.95; P < .001; between-center aOR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.47-0.99; P = .02) or treatment with immunomodulatory drugs (within-center aOR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.67-0.87; P < .001). After adjusting for patient demographic characteristics, chronic health conditions, severity of acute illness, and receipt of COVID-19-specific treatments, there was no association of Black race with hospital mortality (within-center aOR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.86-1.10; P = .71) or 30-day readmission (within-center aOR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.88-1.04; P = .28). Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that Black veterans hospitalized with COVID-19 were less likely to be treated with evidence-based COVID-19 treatments, including systemic steroids, remdesivir, and immunomodulatory drugs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Veterans , Male , Humans , Aged , Female , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2 , Retrospective Studies , Treatment Outcome , Oxygen
11.
Health Expect ; 25(5): 2548-2556, 2022 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2084613

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is building a Whole Health system of care that aspires to empower and equip each Veteran to pursue a personally meaningful vision of health and well-being. As part of this effort, VHA has developed Taking Charge of My Life and Health (TCMLH), a peer-led, group-based programme that seeks to support Veterans in setting and pursuing health and well-being goals. Prior research showed TCMLH groups to positively impact Veteran outcomes; yet, little is known about Veterans' own experiences and perspectives. METHODS: We completed semi-structured telephone interviews with 15 Veterans across 8 sites who had participated in TCMLH groups offered by the VHA in the virtual format between Summer 2020 and Fall 2021. Inductive thematic analysis was applied to interview transcripts to generate themes. FINDINGS: We identified five themes regarding Veterans' experiences with TCMLH: (1) navigating the virtual format; (2) internalizing the value of health engagement; (3) making healthy lifestyle changes; (4) forging social connections; and (5) taking on a more active role in healthcare. CONCLUSION: Veterans perceived virtual TCMLH groups as meaningful and beneficial, yet also highlighted several challenges. Their perspectives speak to the need to supplement time-limited programmes like TCMLH with ongoing, community-based support. Virtual group-based well-being programmes are a promising innovation. Other healthcare systems may draw on VHA's experience while tailoring format and content to the needs of their patient populations. PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: Veterans were involved as evaluation participants. A Veteran consultant, who is a coauthor on this paper, was engaged through the conceptualization of the evaluation, development of data collection materials (interview guide) and writing.


Subject(s)
Veterans , United States , Humans , United States Department of Veterans Affairs , Qualitative Research , Peer Group , Delivery of Health Care
12.
JAMA Netw Open ; 5(10): e2240037, 2022 10 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2074864

ABSTRACT

Importance: With a large proportion of the US adult population vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, it is important to identify who remains at risk of severe infection despite vaccination. Objective: To characterize risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease in a vaccinated population. Design, Setting, and Participants: This nationwide, retrospective cohort study included US veterans who received a SARS-CoV-2 vaccination series and later developed laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and were treated at US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. Data were collected from December 15, 2020, through February 28, 2022. Exposures: Demographic characteristics, comorbidities, immunocompromised status, and vaccination-related variables. Main Outcomes and Measures: Development of severe vs nonsevere SARS-CoV-2 infection. Severe disease was defined as hospitalization within 14 days of a positive SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test and either blood oxygen level of less than 94%, receipt of supplemental oxygen or dexamethasone, mechanical ventilation, or death within 28 days. Association between severe disease and exposures was estimated using logistic regression models. Results: Among 110 760 patients with infections following vaccination (97 614 [88.1%] men, mean [SD] age at vaccination, 60.8 [15.3] years; 26 953 [24.3%] Black, 11 259 [10.2%] Hispanic, and 71 665 [64.7%] White), 10 612 (9.6%) had severe COVID-19. The strongest association with risk of severe disease after vaccination was age, which increased among patients aged 50 years or older with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 1.42 (CI, 1.40-1.44) per 5-year increase in age, such that patients aged 80 years or older had an aOR of 16.58 (CI, 13.49-20.37) relative to patients aged 45 to 50 years. Immunocompromising conditions, including receipt of different classes of immunosuppressive medications (eg, leukocyte inhibitor: aOR, 2.80; 95% CI, 2.39-3.28) or cytotoxic chemotherapy (aOR, 2.71; CI, 2.27-3.24) prior to breakthrough infection, or leukemias or lymphomas (aOR, 1.87; CI, 1.61-2.17) and chronic conditions associated with end-organ disease, such as heart failure (aOR, 1.74; CI, 1.61-1.88), dementia (aOR, 2.01; CI, 1.83-2.20), and chronic kidney disease (aOR, 1.59; CI, 1.49-1.69), were also associated with increased risk. Receipt of an additional (ie, booster) dose of vaccine was associated with reduced odds of severe disease (aOR, 0.50; CI, 0.44-0.57). Conclusions and Relevance: In this nationwide, retrospective cohort of predominantly male US Veterans, we identified risk factors associated with severe disease despite vaccination. Findings could be used to inform outreach efforts for booster vaccinations and to inform clinical decision-making about patients most likely to benefit from preexposure prophylaxis and antiviral therapy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Veterans , Humans , Adult , United States/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Female , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Retrospective Studies , COVID-19 Vaccines/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Hospitals, Veterans , Antiviral Agents , Dexamethasone , Oxygen
13.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(20)2022 Oct 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2071483

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore perspectives of Whole Health (WH) coaches at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) on meeting the needs of rural Veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The evaluation design employed a qualitative description approach, employing focus groups and in-depth interviews with a convenience sample of WH coaches across the VHA system. Fourteen coaches who work with rural Veterans participated in either one of three focus groups, individual interviews, or both. The focus group data and in-depth interviews were analyzed separately using thematic analysis, and findings were then merged to compare themes across both datasets. Four primary themes were identified: bridging social risk factors for rural Veterans, leveraging technology to stay connected with Veterans at-a-distance, redirecting Veterans to alternate modes of self-care, and maintaining flexibility in coaching role during COVID-19. One overarching theme was also identified following a post-hoc analysis driven by interdisciplinary team discussion: increased concerns for Veteran mental health during COVID-19. Coaches reported using a variety of strategies to respond to the wide-ranging needs of rural Veterans during the pandemic. Implications of findings for future research and practice are discussed.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Mental Health Services , Veterans , United States/epidemiology , Humans , Veterans/psychology , United States Department of Veterans Affairs , COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics , Qualitative Research
14.
Spinal Cord Ser Cases ; 8(1): 83, 2022 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2062191

ABSTRACT

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort. OBJECTIVES: The primary outcome of the study was to identify patient characteristics associated with a positive COVID-19 test. The secondary outcome was to identify patient characteristics associated with mortality from COVID-19. SETTING: Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders (SCI) Registry, created by the National Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders SCI Program Office in March 2020. METHODS: Data was analyzed in the form of descriptive statistics and then subsequent regression analysis was performed. RESULTS: A total of 4,562 persons with SCI were tested for COVID-19 between March and July 2020, and 290 were positive. The study found that African Americans had increased odds of testing positive for COVID-19 (OR 1.53 (1.18-2.00), p < 0.01). Increased age correlated with increased odds of mortality after testing positive for COVID-19 (1.046 (1.003-1.090)). Non-smokers had lower odds of mortality following positive COVID-19 test (0.15 (0.04-0.52)). No association was found between neurologic level of injury (NLI) and positive COVID-19 test or increased mortality. Increased Body Mass Index (BMI) did correlate with positive COVID-19 test but not increased mortality. The case fatality rate for persons with SCI and a positive test for COVID-19 was 12%. CONCLUSIONS: It is important to define the risk factors for patients with SCI to elucidate and mitigate individual and population risks. These risk factors also can play a role in determining the allocation of critical healthcare resources.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Spinal Cord Injuries , Veterans , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , Spinal Cord Injuries/complications
18.
BMC Prim Care ; 23(1): 245, 2022 09 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2038662

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread changes to healthcare, but few studies focus on ambulatory care during the early phase of the pandemic. We characterize veterans' ambulatory care experience, specifically access and satisfaction, early in the pandemic. METHODS: We employed a semi-structured telephone interview to capture quantitative and qualitative data from patients scheduled with a primary care provider between March 1 - June 30, 2020. Forty veterans were randomly identified at a single large urban Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical center. The interview guide utilized 56 closed and open-ended questions to characterize veterans' perceptions of access to and satisfaction with their primary care experience at VHA and non-VHA primary care sources. We also explored the context of veterans' daily lives during the pandemic. We analyzed quantitative data using descriptive statistics and verbatim quotes using a matrix analysis. RESULTS: Veterans reported completing more appointments (mean 2.6 (SD 2.2)) than scheduled (mean 2.3 (SD 2.2)) mostly due to same-day or urgent visits, with a shift to telephone (mean 2.1 (SD 2.2)) and video (mean 1.5 (SD 0.6)). Among those who reported decreased access to care early in the pandemic (n = 27 (67%)), 15 (56%) cited administrative barriers ("The phone would hang up on me") and 9 (33%) reported a lack of provider availability ("They are not reaching out like they used to"). While most veterans (n = 31 (78%)) were highly satisfied with their VHA care (mean score 8.6 (SD 2.0 on a 0-10 scale), 9 (23%) reported a decrease in satisfaction since the pandemic. The six (15%) veterans who utilized non-VHA providers during the period of interest reported, on average, higher satisfaction ratings (mean 9.5 (SD 1.2)). Many veterans reported psychosocial effects such as the worsening of mental health (n = 6 (15%)), anxiety concerning the virus (n = 12 (30%)), and social isolation (n = 8 (20%), "I stay inside and away from people"). CONCLUSIONS: While the number of encounters reported suggest adequate access and satisfaction, the comments regarding barriers to care suggest that enhanced approaches may be warranted to improve and sustain veteran perceptions of adequate access to and satisfaction with primary care during times of crisis.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Veterans , Ambulatory Care , COVID-19/epidemiology , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Pandemics , Personal Satisfaction , Primary Health Care , United States/epidemiology , United States Department of Veterans Affairs , Veterans/psychology
19.
Med Care ; 60(11): 860-867, 2022 11 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2037581

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has been an option for Veterans receiving urgent care through Veterans Health Administration Community Care (CC). OBJECTIVE: We assessed use, arrangements, Veteran decision-making, and experiences with CC urgent care delivered via telehealth. DESIGN: Convergent parallel mixed methods, combining multivariable regression analyses of claims data with semistructured Veteran interviews. SUBJECTS: Veterans residing in the Western United States and Hawaii, with CC urgent care claims March 1 to September 30, 2020. KEY RESULTS: In comparison to having in-person only visits, having a telehealth-only visit was more likely for Veterans who were non-Hispanic Black, were urban-dwelling, lived further from the clinic used, had a COVID-related visit, and did not require an in-person procedure. Predictors of having both telehealth and in-person (compared with in-person only) visits were other (non-White, non-Black) non-Hispanic race/ethnicity, urban-dwelling status, living further from the clinic used, and having had a COVID-related visit. Care arrangements varied widely; telephone-only care was common. Veteran decisions about using telehealth were driven by limitations in in-person care availability and COVID-related concerns. Veterans receiving care via telehealth generally reported high satisfaction. CONCLUSIONS: CC urgent care via telehealth played an important role in providing Veterans with care access early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Use of telehealth differed by Veteran characteristics; lack of in-person care availability was a driver. Future work should assess for changes in telehealth use with pandemic progression, geographic differences, and impact on care quality, care coordination, outcomes, and costs to ensure Veterans' optimal and equitable access to care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Telemedicine , Veterans , Ambulatory Care , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , Telemedicine/methods , United States , Veterans Health
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