Engaging Stakeholders in Identifying Access Research Priorities for the Department of Veterans Affairs

Why did we do this study?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Consortium of Research focused on access to healthcare, has been funded by VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) to develop a research roadmap for healthcare access. The goal of the roadmap is to identify operationally aligned research questions that are most likely to lead to meaningful improvements in Veterans’ healthcare access.

What did we want to learn?

To describe the process for engaging diverse stakeholders to understand their perspectives about key priorities on which VA’s HSR&D access agenda should focus.

How did we do the study?

We used a modified Delphi approach to engage researchers and VA operational partners in a process to develop recommendations regarding the access-related research questions VA should prioritize. We then collaborated with three Veteran Engagement Groups (VEGs) across the country to solicit Veterans’ reactions to the Delphi results and their perspectives about access-related issues affecting access to VA health care.

What did we learn?

The Delphi process resulted in five research questions identified by the panelists as the highest priority for VA to pursue, each representing one of the following domains: (1) measurement of access, (2) barriers to access, (3) equity and subpopulations, (4) effective interventions to improve access, and (5) consequences of poor/better access. Veterans’ perspectives focused primarily on the barriers to access domain. Veterans indicated several barriers that might be addressed through research or operational initiatives, including poor communication about services, weak connections to and partnerships with local community care facilities, and poor provision of telehealth resources and education.

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Demetria M. McNeal, Ph.D., MBA
Demetria M. McNeal, Ph.D., MBA

Demetria McNeal, Ph.D., MBA is a health communication scientist with expertise in implementation science, sustainability, and health equity. She is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of Health Equity in the Division of General Internal Medicine, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. McNeal is dedicated to disrupting the status quo of healthcare.

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