Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Special Services for Women in Substance Use Disorders Treatment: How Does the Department of Veterans Affairs Compare with Other Providers?

Gender is an important consideration in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). Although the number of women seeking care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has increased dramatically, little is known about the capacity of the VA to meet the needs of women with SUD. We examined the prevalence of programs and key services for women in VA facilities in a survey of 14,311 SUD treatment facilities.

Approximately 31% of facilities had special programs exclusively for women. The VA had the lowest prevalence of programs for women, at 19.1%; however, the VA offered an average of 5 key services for women, which was significantly higher than the averages for other federal (n = 2), local (n = 4), and private for-profit (n = 2) facilities. Results were generally robust to multivariable adjustments.

The VA should consider developing more SUD programs and groups exclusively for women, while maintaining ancillary services at their relatively abundant level. Gender-specific programs and groups could serve as points of referral to ancillary services for women veterans.

  • 1Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, Maryland. Electronic address: kevin.heslin@ahrq.hhs.gov.
  • 2Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center, North Hills, California.

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