Female Veteran Use of Palliative and Hospice Care: A Scoping Review

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The number of female veterans in the USA in the age range of 55-64 years increased 7-fold from 2000 to 2015. Female veterans are more likely to suffer from certain mental health disorders, respiratory diseases, neurologic diseases, and some forms of cancer when compared to their male counterparts. Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare providers need to be prepared to care for this growth of female veterans with serious illness. These serious illnesses require appropriate medical management, which often includes palliative care. It is imperative to determine how VA healthcare providers integrate palliative and hospice care for this population. The purpose of our scoping review was to explore the palliative and hospice care literature specific to female veterans to learn: (1) what evidence is available regarding female veterans’ use of palliative and hospice care? (2) To meet the needs of this growing population, what gaps exist specific to female veterans’ use of palliative and hospice care? Methods

A scoping review methodology was employed following the nine-step process described by the Joanna Briggs Institute for conducting scoping reviews. Results

Nineteen articles met the inclusion criteria. Fourteen quantitative articles were included which comprised 10 retrospective chart reviews, one randomized controlled trial, one correlation, one quality improvement, and one cross-sectional. The remaining five were qualitative studies. The sample populations within the articles were overwhelmingly male and white. Content analysis of the articles revealed three themes: quality of end of life care, distress, and palliative care consult. Conclusions

The female veteran population is increasing and becoming more ethnically diverse. Female veterans are not well represented in the literature. Our review also uncovered a significant gap in the study methodologies. We found that retrospective chart reviews dominated the palliative and hospice care literature specific to veterans. More prospective study designs are needed that explore the veteran and family experience while receiving end of life care. With the rising number of older female veterans and their risk for serious illness, it is imperative that research studies purposefully recruit, retain, analyze, and report female veteran statistics along with their male counterparts. We can no longer afford to disregard the value of the female veterans’ perspective.

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Military Medicine

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