Veterans' Action League: A Community Engagement Initiative

Monday, 30 October 2017: 9:50 AM

Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, PhD, MSN, BSN
Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors: College of Nursing- Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO, USA
Linda Flynn, PhD
College of Nursing, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA
Megan C. Payton, BA
College of Nursing, Univeristy of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO, USA
Eleni Katherine Padden, BA
Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors Health Research Initiative for Veterans, University of Colorado College of Nursing, Aurora, CO, USA

As conflicts increase globally, the number of veterans around the world who struggle to reintegrate into civilian life is reaching historical proportions. Yet, veterans are more likely than civilians to suffer from debilitating mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Thus, there is a critical need for evidence regarding how to best deliver care to this vulnerable group. The Veterans’ Action League (VAL) was designed as a model for effective veteran empowerment by equipping veterans to engage in meaningful patient centered-outcomes research (PCOR) and comparative effectiveness research (CER) activities. VAL Units were formed in the six U.S. states with the largest veteran populations-- CA, FL, NY, OH, PA, and TX. Respective VAL Leaders serve as each VAL Unit’s driving force to bring veterans and stakeholders together to dialogue about the current state of veteran health care, veterans’ PCOR and CER priorities, care preferences, and concrete ways in which veterans can partner with PCOR and CER researchers. Through VALs, a multistate network of university-based collaborative academic researcher members (CARMS) and veteran leaders are actively engaged in developing new tools to improve veteran-centered care. In this presentation, we will discuss the process used to develop VAL’s including community engagement methods. We will also present a thematic analysis of the dialogues between veterans and stakeholders, which identify veterans’ information needs, care preferences, and research priorities. This project gives veterans an active voice in PCOR and CER activities by creating a platform for dialogue and engagement with other veterans and key stakeholders. By creating a platform for dialogue and engagement with other veterans and key stakeholders about veterans’ PCOR and CER priorities and the information they need to make healthcare decisions, this project minimizes the knowledge gap and prepares veterans to shape future PCOR and CER initiatives.