Challenges with Delivering Gender-Specific and Comprehensive Primary Care to Women Veterans

Alicia A. Bergman, Richard M. Frankel, Alison B. Hamilton, Elizabeth M. Yano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background: The growing presence of women veterans in Veterans Administration (VA) settings has prompted the need for greater attention to clinical proficiency related to women's health (WH) primary care needs. Instead of making appointments for multiple visits or referring patients to a WH clinic or alternate site for gender-specific care, a comprehensive primary care model now allows for women veteran patients be seen by primary care providers (PCPs) who have WH training/experience and can see patients for both primary and WH care in the context of a single visit. However, little is currently known about the barriers and facilitators WH-PCPs face in using this approach to incorporate gender-specific services into women veterans' primary care services. Methods: We conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with 22 WH-PCPs at one Midwestern VA Medical Center. All participants were members of one of four outpatient primary care clinics within the main medical center, one off-site satellite clinic, or two off-site community-based outpatient clinics. Results: Inductive thematic analysis identified six themes: 1) Time constraints, 2) importance of staff support, 3) necessity of sufficient space and equipment/supplies, 4) perceptions of discomfort among patients with trauma histories, 5) lack of education/training, and 6) challenges with scheduling/logistics. Conclusion: Although adequate staff was a key facilitator, the findings suggest that there may be barriers that undermine the ability of VA WH-PCPs to provide high-quality, comprehensive primary and gender-specific care. The nature of these barriers is multifactorial and multilevel in nature, and may therefore require special policy and practice action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-34
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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