Timely Access to Mental Health Care Among Women Veterans

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Abstract

Using survey data on (N = 419) patients at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics we analyzed women veterans’ reports of timely access to VA mental health care. We evaluated problems that patients might face in obtaining care, and examined subjective ratings of VA care as a function of timely access to mental health care. We found that 59% of participants reported “always” getting an appointment for mental health care as soon as needed. In adjusted analyses, two problems were negatively associated with timely access to mental health care: (a) medical appointments that interfere with other activities, and (b) difficulty getting questions answered between visits. Average subjective ratings of VA ranged from 8.2–8.6 out of 10, and 93% of participants would recommend VA care. Subjective ratings of VA were higher among women who reported timely access to mental health care. Findings suggest that overall experience of care is associated with timely access to mental health care, and that such access may be amenable to improvements related to clinic hours or mechanisms for answering patient questions between visits.

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