The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated health care system in the United States. To date, there has been scant research on how VHA adopts clinical preventive services guidelines and how U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations factor into the process.
Researchers conducted semistructured interviews with eight VHA leaders to examine how they adopt, disseminate, and measure adherence to recommendations. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and aggregated into a database to enable sorting and synthesis. Themes were identified across the key informant interviews.
The development of VHA clinical prevention guidelines is coordinated by the National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. A VHA Advisory Committee discusses and votes to approve or disapprove each guideline. Several factors can impact the ability of a veterans affairs medical center to implement a guideline, such as local system capacity and priorities for quality improvement. Methods to promote implementation include electronic reminders, educational events, and a robust performance measurement system.
Provision of evidence-based clinical preventive services is an important part of VHA's effort to provide high-quality care for Veterans. Recent achievements in lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and Hepatitis C screening highlight VHA's successful approach to implementation of preventive services guidance.