The Military Health History: An Educational Initiative to Improve Veteran Healthcare

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Military Medicine


Introduction: As a result of the nature of military service, veterans are a unique patient population with many special health considerations. For various reasons, measures are often not taken by clinicians to address such special considerations. This results in a healthcare disparity for veterans first described by Dr. Jeffrey Brown in 2012. To address this disparity, we introduced "the military health history" to third-year medical students at a large medical school in the southeastern United States. Our objective was to assess the effectiveness of this educational intervention and determine its potential role in creating a future in which veteran healthcare is of the highest quality. Materials and methods: This study was approved as a quality assurance/quality improvement project by both Louisiana State University Health Science Center and Southeast Louisiana Veteran Healthcare System IRB offices. A short lecture outlining the components of the military health history was presented to 186 third-year medical students. The students were given the opportunity to answer five survey questions before and after the lecture. These questions assessed the students' current confidence performing a military health history, perceived importance of doing so, and likelihood of future implementation. To determine useful retention of the lecture material, the post-lecture survey was readministered to the same population sample 6 months after the lecture. A series of repeated measures analyses of variance were conducted to examine changes in mean levels of confidence, importance, and likelihood of ascertaining military history during a patient encounter at pre- and post-presentation as well as at the 6 month follow-up. Results: Results revealed a significant effect of time on importance, Wilks' Lambda = 0.74, F (2, 87) = 15.41, P < 0.001; confidence, Wilks' Lambda = 0.61, F (2, 87) = 27.58, P < 0.001; and likelihood of ascertaining a military history during a future patient encounter, Wilks' Lambda = 0.46, F (2, 88) = 50.58, P < 0.001. Results are demonstrated in detail in Table I of the manuscript. Conclusion: The lecture resulted in a statistically significant increase over 6 months in both the likelihood and confidence parameters. The team believes that this result indicates that the students demonstrated useful retention of the lecture material. Our hope is that these students continue to employ the military health history throughout their years of clinical work. In the future, we plan to survey veterans immediately following Veterans Health Administration clinic visits with members of our study population to assess the patient's perceived benefit of the military health history. The team will continue to investigate ways in which military health curricula can be implemented in undergraduate medical education.

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