Civilian Nurses' Knowledge, Confidence, and Comfort Caring for Military Veterans: Survey Results of a Mixed-Methods Study

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Abstract

More than 20 million Veterans currently live in the United States, representing World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan war eras, as well as many who served during peacetime. Little is known regarding what home care nurses know about the unique healthcare needs of this population. Using Purnell's Model for Cultural Competence, a mixed-methods study was designed to examine home care nurse's knowledge, comfort, and confidence in caring for active military, Veterans and their families. This article provides the data from a national survey of 102 home care nurses. Findings suggest that civilian home care nurses have limited experience working with active military but work with Veterans at least monthly, if not weekly. Nurses were most confident in managing pain and least confident in managing issues related to military sexual trauma. Knowledge of resources available to Veterans, war-specific exposures, and Veteran-specific health issues were the top areas nurses felt less confident in. Continued efforts need to be put in place so that 100% of all patients seeking healthcare are screened for military/Veteran status. In addition, continuing education for nurses needs to include Veteran-specific topics so evidence-based, culturally sensitive care can be provided.

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