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Predictors of Veterans Affairs Health Service Utilization by Women Veterans during Pregnancy

  • Grekin, Rebecca
  • Zivin, Kara
  • Hall, Stephanie V.
  • Van, Tony
  • Mattocks, Kristin M.
Publication Date
May 13, 2020
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BACKGROUND: Researchers have examined predictors of Veterans Affairs (VA) service use by women veterans in general, but less is known about predictors of VA service use by pregnant veterans. This study examined characteristics associated with planned and actual VA service use by pregnant veterans. METHODS: This study includes data from 510 pregnant veterans enrolled in the Center for Maternal and Infant Outcomes Research in Translation Study. Women veterans completed phone interviews during their first trimester and at 3 months postpartum. The Center for Maternal and Infant Outcomes Research in Translation surveys assessed medical and mental health conditions, VA health care use, trauma history, and pregnancy complications. We conducted bivariate and multivariable logistic regression models assessing planned and actual use of VA services during pregnancy. RESULTS: Lifetime post-traumatic stress disorder (odds ratio [OR], 1.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-2.69) and history of military sexual trauma (OR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.19-2.87) were significantly associated with planned VA service use in multivariable models. Lifetime diagnoses of anxiety (OR, 1.78; C.I.[1.15-2.75) were associated with an increased likelihood of actual VA use during pregnancy, whereas Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.36-0.96), younger age (OR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.91-0.99), and access to private health insurance (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.37-0.84) were associated with a decreased likelihood of actual VA service use during pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: Results emphasize the association between high-risk mental health characteristics and specific demographic characteristics with VA service use among pregnant veterans. Study findings highlight a continued need for women's health care at the VA, as well as the availability of VA providers knowledgeable about perinatal health issues, and informed community providers regarding women veterans' health.

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