Updates from the VA Office of Health Equity

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April 5, 2017

VA Raising Awareness of Equitable Health Care During National Minority Health Month

VA National Minority Health Month

The month of April is designated as National Minority Health Month. This year’s theme is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.” At VA, the Center for Minority Veterans (CMV) and Office of Health Equity (OHE) are raising awareness of the various factors that impact on the ability of minority Veterans and their families to reach the highest level of health and wellbeing. VA makes continued commitment in partnering with other federal agencies to advance equity in its policies via participation with the Federal Interagency Health Equity Team.

National Negro Health Week laid the foundation for National Minority Health Month 100 years ago. Dr. Booker T. Washington took the lead with African American newspapers by proposing a national week due to his belief that health was the key to progress and equity in all other things. He called on local health departments, schools, churches, businesses and professional associations to unite in one great national movement. His initial efforts have grown to a national observance of month long initiatives and activities that advance health equity across the country on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities.

Visit http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/36662/va-raising-awareness-of-equitable-health-care-during-national-minority-health-month/ to continue reading this blog post and to learn more about VA efforts towards health equity in celebration of National Minority Health Month.

April Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar – Military Service History and VA Benefit Utilization for Minority Veterans

April’s Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar is dedicated to National Minority Health Month. The session will focus on minority Veteran’s military service history and use of VA benefits. Event description and registration information is below.

Minority Veteran Collage

Military Service History and VA Benefit Utilization for Minority Veterans

Thursday, April 27, 2017

3:00 – 4:00 pm EST

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5353823763119229187


Event Description

VHA Office of Health Equity is pleased to partner with the VA Center for Minority Veterans for April’s session in observation of National Minority Health Month. April’s Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar session spotlights the recently released Minority Veterans Report: Military Service History and VA Benefit Utilization Statistics report from the VA Data Governance and Analytics office. This new report increases our understanding of racial and ethnic minority Veterans, their use of VA benefits and services, as well as the impact of military service on their lives post-military. April’s session will 1) discuss the new report and the role of social and economic determinants of health; 2) highlight VA actions to advance health equity for minority Veterans; and 3) explore additional ways to best to serve these American Heroes.

Confirmed Speakers 

  • Tom Garin, DPA
    Director, Statistics and Analytics Service, VA Office of Enterprise Integration, Washington, DC 

  • Barbara Ward, BSN, MPA
    Director, VA Center for Minority Veterans, Washington, DC 

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

  • Tamara Lee, MS
    Statistician, Statistics and Analytics Service, VA Office of Enterprise Integration, Washington, DC 

Background Resources 

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5353823763119229187

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.

Office of Health Equity Transgender Study Ranked among Top 5 Most Downloaded Articles

Last week was National LGBT Health Awareness Week (March 27-31, 2017), which raises awareness of health disparities affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and the need for health equity. The Office of Health Equity joins these efforts to raise awareness of disparities impacting vulnerable Veterans including LGBT Veterans. One example is the OHE Transgender Veteran Protocol. The purpose of this research protocol, and related research, is to examine medical and mental health outcomes among Transgender Veterans and identify disparities these Veterans face when seeking VHA care.

The main paper from the protocol was the third most downloaded article as of March 27, 2017 according to the journal LGBT Health. The study, Mental Health and Medical Health Disparities in 5135 Transgender Veterans Receiving Healthcare in the Veterans Health Administration: A Case-Control Study, was first published online in December 2015. The study examines psychiatric and mental health outcomes in clinically diagnosed transgender Veterans receiving VHA care from 1996 to 2013.

Study authors, including OHE staffer Kenneth T. Jones, PhD, report the following:

  • Statistically significant disparities for transgender Veterans were present for all 10 mental health conditions examined, including depression, suicidality, serious mental illnesses, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

  • Transgender Veterans were more likely to have been homeless, to have reported sexual trauma while on active duty, and to have been incarcerated.  

  • Significant disparities in the prevalence of medical diagnoses for transgender Veterans were also detected for 16/17 diagnoses examined, with HIV disease representing the largest disparity between groups.


In another study examining racial disparities among non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white Transgender Veterans, the same authors reported: 

  • Black transgender Veterans were more likely than white transgender Veterans to be diagnosed with alcohol abuse, benign prostatic hyperplasia, congestive heart failure, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, end-stage renal disease, serious mental illness, and tobacco use.  

  • White transgender Veterans were more likely than black transgender Veterans to be diagnosed with depression, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity.  

  • Black transgender veterans’ odds of having a history of incarceration was nearly three times larger and their odds of experiencing homelessness was nearly two times larger than White transgender veterans.



Brown, G. R., Jones, K. T. (2016). Mental Health and Medical Health Disparities in 5135 Transgender Veterans Receiving Healthcare in the Veterans Health Administration: A Case-Control Study. LGBT Health, 3(2), 122-131. Available online at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/lgbt.2015.0058?journalCode=lgbt.

Brown, G. R., Jones, K. T. (2014). Racial Health Disparities in a Cohort of 5,135 Transgender Veterans. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 1(4), 257-266. Available online at  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40615-014-0032-4.

Don’t Miss this Call for Papers – Evidence-Base for Implementation Strategies in Primary Care Practice

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine has issued a call for papers for a Primary Care Implementation Science Theme Issue. According to their website, the editors of the journal are “interested in research that builds the evidence-base for implementation strategies in primary care practice, including the implementation and evaluation of patient-centered models of care delivery and implementation of clinical evidence, and methods for interventions to diverse practice settings and populations.”

Do not miss this opportunity to include tailored care for Veteran populations in the content of this special Issue. In addition to original research and commentaries from the field, this theme issue will highlight the thematic areas including health equity/disparities, discussed by experts at the  March 2017 Cross Border Primary Care Symposium held in Washington DC.

The deadline for consideration for this theme issue is July 5, 2017. More information on the call for papers can be accessed on this link: http://jabfm.org/site/misc/Call%20For%20Papers.xhtml.