VA Taps National Database To Study Key Health Issues Affecting Vets

July 8, 2015 in News

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will conduct four studies that use genetic and other data from a national database to explore key health issues, Health Data Management reports.

Details of the Initiative

The studies, which are part of “a beta test” for data access, will leverage information from the Million Veteran Program, a U.S.-based, voluntary research program that works with veterans who receive care through VA to examine the role genes play in health. MVP already has enrolled more than 390,000 participants and aims to enroll one million veterans in the program.

The MVP database includes:

  • Access to VA’s electronic health record system;
  • Analytical tools;
  • DNA specimens;
  • Links to tissue specimens; and
  • IT capabilities to find patients for studies.

Specifically, the studies will focus on genetic risk factors for common chronic illnesses among black and Hispanic veteran populations, including:

  • Cardiovascular problems;
  • Drug response to kidney disease and hypertension;
  • Metabolic conditions; and
  • Multi-substance misuse, including alcohol, tobacco and opioids.

The studies also will help create new ways to securely connect MVP data with health information from other sources, such as CMS.

Other MVP-based studies underway focus on:

  • Bipolar disorder;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder; and
  • Schizophrenia.

VA’s Chief Research and Development Officer Timothy O’Leary said, “There’s already been an impressive amount of data collected through MVP, and we’re continuing to engage more veterans in the program and building its research infrastructure through studies like these” (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 7/8).

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