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Exploring the association of care fragmentation and patient ratings of care quality: A mediation analysis of women Veterans' experience with VA care

Objective: To examine the relationship between care fragmentation and patient ratings of care quality and identify potentially actionable mediators.

Data Sources/Study Setting: 2015 telephone survey of 1395 women Veterans with three or more visits in primary care and/or women's health care in the prior year at 12 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.

Study Design: Crosssectional analysis.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: We operationalized lower care fragmentation as receiving VAonly care versus dual use of VA/nonVA care. Participants rated VA care quality (overall care, women's health care (WH), and primary care (PC)) and three aspects of their patient experience (ease of access to services, provider communication, and gender sensitivity of VA environments). We examined associations between care fragmentation and care ratings and applied the KarlsonHolmBreen decomposition method to test for mediation by aspects of patients’ experience.

Principal Findings: Lower care fragmentation was associated with higher ratings of care quality (odds ratios [95% CI] for overall care: 1.57 [1.14;2.17]; WH: 1.65 [1.20;2.27]; PC: 1.41 [1.10;1.82]). Relationships were mediated by patientrated provider communication and gender sensitivity (2654 percent and 1415 percent of total effects, respectively). Ease of access was associated with higher care ratings (odds ratios [95% CI] for overall care: 2.93 [2.25;3.81]; WH: 2.81 [2.15;3.68]; PC: 2.33 [1.63;3.33], in models with the three types of patient care experiences included), but did not mediate the association of care fragmentation and care ratings.

Conclusions: Potential negative effects of care fragmentation on care quality ratings could be mitigated by attention to quality of patientprovider communication and gender sensitivity of VA environments.

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