Utilization and outcomes of a Whole Health model of care by Veterans with psychiatric illness
Abstract: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is implementing a model of healthcare known as Whole Health (WH). The goal of WH is to shift from a disease-oriented system to one that emphasizes health promotion and disease prevention as well as promotes the use of Complementary and Integrative Health. The aim of this project was to investigate utilization and outcomes of WH programming among Veterans with psychiatric disorders. This was a retrospective study. Subjects were 7138 Veterans who had a mental health diagnosis. Descriptive data, as well as within- and between-subjects analyses were conducted to investigate utilization and outcomes.Setting: The study was conducted at a large VHA medical center. Whole health interventions considered in this study were mindfulness training, health education, wellbeing, and nutrition classes as well as health coaching. Other whole health interventions, such as acupuncture and message were not evaluated. Utilization of mental health treatment services, medication prescriptions, pain scores and suicide-related behaviors were the primary outcome measures.Results: There were 305 Veterans with at least one WH appointment. The existence of several specific psychiatric disorders was associated with WH utilization. The mean number of appointments completed per individual was 6.9 for all WH programming. Finally, WH participation was associated with decreased risk of suicide as well as reduced use of mental health services. There were no significant changes to other outcome variables. WH programming shows promise to reduce suicide risk and the need for mental health services among this population. Additionally, WH services were underutilized and there was a lack of treatment engagement.
Abstract:Military families face many unique challenges, including frequent separations, demanding work hours, and relocations. The HealthySteps (HS) program may offset these challenges utilizing the expertise of a nonclinical child development specialist called a HS specialist who offers enhanced well-child visits (WCVs), support between visits, and connections to community resources. Our study sought to identify the impact of the military HS pilot program on the timeliness of WCVs, immunizations, routine behavioural and developmental screenings, and referrals to community resources within the first 15 months of life (MOL). We retrospectively reviewed charts of 26 HS-enrolled and 26 randomly selected age-matched non-HS–enrolled children from age 2 to 15 MOL. Demographic variables obtained include child’s gender, child’s birth order, mother’s age, active duty parent’s rank classification, and active duty parent’s gender. We examined five outcomes measures aligning with the American Academy of Pediatrics health supervision, immunization, and screening recommendations and National Committee for Quality Assurance Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set measures: (1) completed six or more WCVs in the first 15 MOL, (2) completed developmental screening at the 9-month WCV, (3) up to date on vaccinations at 15 MOL, (4) completed three or more postpartum depression (PPD) screens in the first 6 MOL, and (5) the total number of documented referrals to community resources within the first 15 MOL. Chi-square analysis and independent t-tests were used to compare the groups. There was no statistical significance (P > .05) between the HS-enrolled and control groups for all five demographic variables. A significantly higher percentage of children in the HS-enrolled group received PPD screening compared to the control group (96% vs. 73.1%, P = .021). The HS-enrolled group had a higher mean number of community resource referrals at 15 MOL of 2.46 (SD = 1.14) vs. the control group with a mean of 0.19 (SD = 0.49). None of the other outcomes showed a statistically significant difference between groups. The results of this study indicate the positive impacts of the military HS program on referrals to community resources and PPD screening, reflecting the HS specialist focus on the family unit. Limitations of this study include the small population size and limited demographic information resulting from the retrospective nature of the study and pilot status of the HS program. Larger prospective studies are needed to clarify the true impact of the HS program in the military health system.