U.S. Veteran Health Care Utilization Increases after Caregivers' Use of National Caregiver Telephone Support Line

Joan M. Griffin, Cari Malcolm, Pamela Wright, Emily Hagel Campbell, Margaret Kabat, Ann K. Bangerter, Nina A. Sayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established the national Caregiver Support Line (CSL) in February 2011. The CSL is operated by licensed master's degree social workers who provide caregivers of veterans with information about caregiver benefits and services, counseling, and referrals to a caregiver support coordinator at the nearest VA medical center. The authors compared differences in veteran health care utilization patterns in the six months before and after a caregiver call to the CSL, hypothesizing that veterans with caregivers using the CSL had improved access to health care services and improved access increased utilization of health care. A pre- A nd posttest design was used. CSL calls that resulted in referrals to VA health care services or to local VA caregiver support coordinators were included in the sample. Data were extracted from the CSL database and matched to veteran care utilization data using veteran medical record data. Veteran inpatient stays for general medicine, hospice, respite, and long-term care significantly increased after the CSL call, but other inpatient stays (surgery, neurology) did not. Outpatient services for home health, respite, and mental health all significantly increased. Caregivers' use of the national CSL may help facilitate access for veterans to needed care services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e111-e119
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research and Development, and the Polytrauma/Blast Related Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (PT/BRI QUERI; QLP 56-011). The findings and conclusions presented in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Office of Research and Development.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 National Association of Social Workers.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • access to care
  • caregivers
  • health care utilization
  • telephone support lines
  • veterans


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