Updates from the VA Office of Health Equity

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February 28, 2017

The National Veteran Health Equity Report Continues to Make Waves

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The National Veteran Health Equity Report was released last year and it continues to make an impact. Here are some examples: 

  1. Data Now Publicly Available
    The data used to create the National Veteran Health Equity Report tables and figures are now publicly available on data.gov. Data.gov is a key repository that provides increased public access to Federal datasets.  Please visit https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/national-veteran-health-equity-report-fy13 to download the data. Visit https://www.va.gov/healthequity/Data.asp for information on other publicly available datasets from the Office of Health Equity. 

  2. Data Visualization Tool to Explore the Report
    The Office of Health Equity is pleased to announce the release of a data visualization tool created by our office to supplement the National Veteran Health Equity Report. The tool allows users to interact with the data used in the National Veteran Health Equity Report, create charts on demand, and download data and charts that can be used in presentations and projects. Most importantly, the tool allows Veterans and stakeholders to assess health and health care use of VHA patients during FY2013. We encourage everyone to use this information to support appropriate actions including advancing health equity for all Veterans. Please visit https://vha-healthequity.shinyapps.io/NVHER_Shiny/ to learn more about Veteran health equity issues.  

Office of Health Equity Partners with VA Research Team to Release Veteran Patient Narrative Videos – “Journeys with High Blood Pressure”

Did you know that some Veterans experience higher rates of hypertension? According to the National Veteran Health Equity Report, hypertension was the top diagnosis in several vulnerable groups. A VA research team has created a series of videos of patients discussing their experiences with high blood pressure and offering tips to take medications, talk to their health care providers, and make other changes. According to the 2016 study, Veterans who watched the videos, compared to those who did not watch the videos, reported greater intentions to:

Patient Faces

  • Become more physically active;
  • Use salt substitutes;
  • Talk openly with their doctor about hypertension; and
  • Remember to take their hypertension medications.

The Office of Health Equity is pleased to be able to share these videos with Veterans and stakeholders. The short videos feature stories from Veterans about high blood pressure and important resources. Users will find narratives from 7 African American Veterans who have managed their high blood pressure and resources to learn more about high blood pressure; benefits of diet and exercise; dangers of smoking and alcohol; importance of talking to family, friends, and doctors; and importance of taking medications and reducing stress.

Visit http://www.va.gov/healthequity/Tools.asp#htn to view the Journeys with High Blood Pressure videos and resources. Patient narratives, including these videos, were the subject of February’s Focus on Health Equity Action Cyberseminar. The archive for the session, Using Veterans’ Stories to Promote Health Equity and Reduce Disparities, can be accessed by clicking the hyperlink.

March Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar and Session Archives

Please join the Office of Health Equity for the March 2017 Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar titled, “Incorporating Social Determinants of Health into VHA Patient Care and Electronic Medical Records.” Event description and registration information is below.


Incorporating Social Determinants of Health into VHA Patient Care and Electronic Medical Records

March 30, 2017
3:00 – 4:00 pm

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2964856574755258370


Event Description

Social determinants of health is a useful concept for describing the availability and distribution of economic, social, and physical conditions that impact patient’s health and the health care system. The current Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar session will 1) describe social determinants of health and how these determinants influence VHA patient care; 2) present an example from the Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team program and their use of social determinants of health to improve patient care for homeless Veterans and their families; and 3) discuss VA data sources and industry best practices to understand and incorporate social determinants of health into the electronic medical record and research activities.

Confirmed Speakers 

  • Tom Garin, DPA
    VA Office of Enterprise Integration, Washington, DC
  • Thomas P. O’Toole, MD
    National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, Providence VA Medical Center 

  • Uchenna S. Uchendu, MD
    Chief Officer, Office of Health Equity, Washington, DC

Background Resources 

  • O’Toole TP, Johnson EE, Aiello R, Kane V, Pape L. Tailoring Care to Vulnerable Populations by Incorporating Social Determinants of Health: the Veterans Health Administration’s “Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team” Program. Prev Chronic Dis 2016;13:150567. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd13.150567 

 Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2964856574755258370


Visit the Office of Health Equity website at http://www.va.gov/healthequity/ for more details about Veteran health equity issues, VA’s strategic plan to achieve health equity for Veterans (Health Equity Action Plan), and to learn more about the Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar series.

Past Session Archives

Office of Health Equity Website and Communication Resources Mark 1 Year Anniversary

The Office of Health Equity website was officially launched on February 24, 2016. The website has proven to be a major tool to communicate to Veterans and other stakeholders about VA health equity efforts and issues impacting our nation’s Veterans.

Top 5 Pages Visited
   1.  Office of Health Equity Main Page
   2.  National Veteran Health Equity Report Page
   3.  Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar Page
   4.  Health Equity Tools Page
   5.  Office of Health Equity Leadership Page

The OHE website features other great resources including the VHA Health Equity Action Plan and past updates from the OHE listserv. The OHE listserv was launched along with the OHE website. There are currently 17,350 subscribers to the OHE listserv.

The Office of Health Equity would like to hear from you about how we can better address Veteran health equity issues. Email us at healthequity@va.gov. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for keeping Veteran health equity issues an important topic in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.