VA Evidence Synthesis Program – Evidence to Provide Effective Veteran Care


VA has implemented one of America’s most comprehensive clinical evidence review programs with its Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP).

The program has helped advance the treatment of various ailments. He has played an important role in helping clinicians nationwide to better manage COVID-19 care and save lives amid the pandemic.

Here are some comments from a recent interview with the co-founder of the Evidence Synthesis Program, Dr Mark Helfand.

“Right now we’re doing a lot of COVID work. We are focusing more on the long-term effects of COVID-related illnesses and the implications this has for chronic illness rehabilitation in VA. Its impact on mental health is a very important goal for us.

Feasible and deliverable – not hypothetical

“We use the best available evidence in decision making, but that’s not the only factor we consider. There are other factors, including what veterans say and what is doable and deliverable on a patient basis rather than in a hypothetical world.

Dr Mark Helfand

“This is all very complicated, and it’s not something that ESP can do on its own. But in my opinion, you can’t do that at all unless you have the evidence synthesis component. Put all the other pieces together and you have an effective learning health system. We are very fortunate in Virginia to have had such a program for 15 years. I think other health systems haven’t really been able to do what VA has done in this area so far.

“ESP began in 2007 with the mission of evaluating clinical studies to better understand how to provide treatment and care for conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to lung cancer. The ultimate goal of PES has been to improve long-term outcomes for a range of physical and mental health problems with a particular focus on those commonly experienced by Veterans.

“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has played a leading role in evaluating the effectiveness of various COVID-19 treatment methods and emergency care practices and has helped share them. with the American medical community at large.

“We have also worked with our colleagues around the world. We are trying to make the response from the systematic reviews community more coordinated. “

Started with multiple trauma and TBI

“There are constant priorities over the years, mental health being one. But at all times, we are tackling the most important and difficult issues of this time. Years ago, multiple trauma was such a big problem. We had veterans who had suffered brain damage and other injuries.

“How can we rehabilitate them in the face of their pain and brain damage? We’ve done a lot of work on head injuries, Gulf War illnesses, and the value of various services like geriatrics.

“We all want to do what we can, the best we can, for the veterans. And we want to get the best treatment, the best tests, the best organization of services. No one wants to be the last person in the neighborhood to adopt something after five or 10 years because that’s when the absolute proof has come in.

“VA management recognizes this. “

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