Did you know that veterans and soldiers are more likely to experience physical and mental illness than civilians are? My name is Kennedy George, I'm a senior Public Health student here at UB. With the help of Dr. Rachel Hoopsick as my mentor and through my position as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Gregory Homish and D. Lynn Homish, I was able to analyze the relationship between combat exposure in soldiers and veterans and trust and satisfaction with the Veteran Health Administration system. Ensuring high levels of trust and satisfaction with healthcare in our veteran and soldier populations is crucial. Not only is satisfaction with care linked to improved health outcomes, but low levels of satisfaction with care can also lead to discontinuity of care and a worsening of chronic health conditions. Our soldiers and veterans already are more likely to experience negative physical and mental health outcomes, so it's imperative that we work to increase their satisfaction with the care they receive.
The objective of this work was to examine trust and satisfaction with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system among previously-deployed male US Army Reserve/National Guard (USAR/NG) soldiers. We used a subset of data (N=235) from Operation: SAFETY (Soldiers And Families Excelling Through the Years) to examine the relations between combat exposure, trust in the VHA, scheduling an appointment with the VHA, satisfaction with VHA services, and acceptability of appointment wait time. Greater combat exposure was correlated with less trust in the VHA (p < 0.05). Lower trust in the VHA was correlated with a reduced likelihood to schedule an appointment (p < 0.01). Among soldiers who visited the VHA, greater combat exposure was correlated with lower satisfaction with services (p < 0.05) and acceptability of appointment wait time (p < 0.05). Our findings demonstrate that combat exposure may adversely affect satisfaction and trust with the VHA.
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