Due to increased global combat operations, the United States is now faced with reintegrating one of the largest groups of veterans in modern history as they re-assimilate into a domestic system that is significantly different from a military culture. Reintegration into civilian life, long identified as having a unique set of psychological and physical vulnerabilities, affects veterans’ health and healthcare decisions. Sound healthcare decision making requires having accurate, up-to-date, understandable, evidence-based information, and the decision-making capacity to use that information. This project will give veterans an active voice in patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) and comparative effectiveness research (CER) activities by creating the Veterans’ Action League (VAL), a national platform for dialogue and engagement with other veterans and key stakeholders about what veterans need to make healthcare decisions. VAL veterans and key stakeholders will mobilize and come together as a dynamic unit to provide insights into the complex, manifold decisions veterans must make when seeking health care. VAL units led by a veteran leader and academic researcher have been formed in six states: California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio. VAL leaders will engage their unit in conversation through monthly meetings and activities about what veterans critically need to make informed healthcare decisions, how they want to and can be involved, specific factors that can inhibit their involvement in research, and ways to engage veterans in PCOR activities. VAL units will engage in Think Tanks, Joint Operation Planning, Networking Meetings, a two-day VAL Unit Retreat, and a Town Hall.
Short-term objectives of this project include engaging veterans and key stakeholders in discussions of PCOR/CER, increasing understanding of what veterans need to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions, and uncovering the gaps in knowledge and the PCOR/CER priorities within this marginalized population.
The project’s long-term objective and primary outcome is ultimately to develop the “PCOR Community Capacity Building Toolkit for Veterans.” It will include a communication plan, capacity building strategies, and resources. The toolkit will be useful for awardees and researchers to increase understanding of what veterans need to make informed healthcare decisions and how they want to receive CER findings.
Project collaborators will come from a variety of groups: VAL leaders, collaborative academic research members (CARMs), veterans, nonprofit/advocacy organizations, friends, families, and caregivers of veterans, service providers, researchers, policy makers, community leaders, and civilian community members. Specifically, the project’s CARMs will come from the following institutions, bringing with them the wealth of research-oriented resources that these institutions possess: University of San Diego, University of Texas San Antonio, Florida Atlantic University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Rochester, and Ohio State University.
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Project Resource: Town Hall Summary
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^This project was originally affiliated with the University of Colorado College of Nursing.