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Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

QUERI E-news
March 2021

QUERI Highlights Implementation and Evaluation Science
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Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million Americans in 2019),1 and more than 1.7 million Veterans received treatment in VA’s mental health specialty program in FY2018. Mental health services for Veterans are available not only in VA's specialty clinics, but also in primary care clinics, nursing homes, and residential care facilities. Emergency mental healthcare also is available 24/7 at VA medical centers. Despite the increased efforts in implementing comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program initiatives, such as the Veterans Crisis Line, and hiring Suicide Prevention Coordinators at every VA hospital, Veteran suicide rates remain high. To help VA continue to enhance care for all Veterans with mental illness and to optimize suicide prevention efforts, QUERI centers are focusing on the following areas.

Behavioral Health QUERI will work to advance care and prevent suicides for Veterans with complex behavioral health conditions, such as bipolar disorder.

  • Principal Investigators: Sara Landes, PhD, and Christopher Miller, PhD
  • Partners: VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, VA Office of Connected Care, and VISN 16, South Central VA Healthcare Network

Evaluation of Implementing FLOW in VISN 19 will evaluate the implementation of the FLOW program in VISN 19, which will assist VA facilities with identifying and transitioning appropriate mental health patients to primary care.

  • Principal Investigator: Natalie Hundt, PhD
  • Partner: VISN 19

Implementation Evaluation of a National Sponsorship Program for Transitioning Service Members will evaluate the impact of a national sponsorship program for transitioning service members on Veteran outcomes, including stressors, social support, psychological distress, services use, and suicidal ideation.

  • Principal Investigator: LTC (Retired) Joseph Geraci, PhD

Implementing Caring Contacts for Suicide Prevention in Non-Mental Health Settings will implement and evaluate Caring Contacts (sending patients at risk of suicide brief expressions of care over one year) in emergency department and urgent care settings to reach Veterans who may not engage in mental health services.

  • Principal Investigator: Sara Landes, PhD
  • Partners: VISNs 5, 6, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19, 22 and 23

Randomized Evaluation of Caring Letters will evaluate the Caring Letters program for Veterans who call the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL), which is vital because VCL callers have suicide rates several times higher than the general Veteran population.

  • Principal Investigator: Mark Reger, PhD
  • Partner: Veterans Crisis Line

Suicide Risk Identification QUERI Evaluation will assess the effectiveness of computerized suicide risk screening and evaluation in VA ambulatory care settings.

  • Principal Investigator: Nazanin Bahraini, PhD
  • Operations Partner: VA National Social Work Programs Office


  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Mental Illness.

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