Distance to Veterans Administration Medical Centers as a Barrier to Specialty Care for Homeless Women Veterans.

Distance to Veterans Administration Medical Centers as a Barrier to Specialty Care for Homeless Women Veterans.

Homeless women Veterans have a high prevalence of chronic mental and physical conditions that necessitate frequent healthcare visits, but travel burdens to specialty services may be overwhelming to navigate for this population, especially for those in rural settings. Access to specialty care is a key priority in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and understanding the geographic distribution and rural designation of this population in relation to medical centers (VAMC) can assist in care coordination. We identified 41,747 women Veterans age 18-44y with administrative evidence of homelessness in the VHA anytime during 2002-2015. We found 7% live in rural settings and 29% live >40miles from a VAMC. The mean travel distance for homeless women Veterans with a rural designation to a VAMC specialty center was 107 miles. Developing interventions to overcome this travel burden and engage vulnerable Veterans in necessary care can improve overall health outcomes for this high-risk population.

JOURNAL: Studies in health technology and informatics
VOLUME: 238
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017