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Transgender persons face challenges when seeking clinical care – study

Transgender people often must choose between stigma and potentially suboptimal care.

Photo by Alina Scheck from Unsplash.com

Transgender people often must choose between stigma and potentially suboptimal care.

This is according to a study – “Transgender People’s Experiences Sharing Information With Clinicians: A Focus Group–Based Qualitative Study” by Ash B. Alpert, Jamie E. Mehringer, Sunshine J. Orta, Tresne Hernandez, Emile F. Redwood, Lexis Rivers, Charlie Manzano, Roman Ruddick, Spencer Adams, Jae Sevelius, Emma Belanger, Don Operario, and Jennifer J. Griggs – that appeared in the Annals of Family Medicine.

In this study, the researchers wanted to investigate transgender people’s experiences sharing health information in clinical encounters may yield insights for family medicine clinicians.

Seven qualitative focus groups were conducted with 30 transgender adults living in North America. Purposive sampling was used to ensure diversity. The focus groups were transcribed verbatim, and two investigators independently reviewed and coded each transcript, then they mutually reviewed the transcripts, reconciled their coding, and summarized the codes into themes. Themes were reviewed with community members, participants, and uninvolved clinically oriented investigators for member checking and peer debriefing.

Four themes were noted: (1) transgender people often perceive clinicians’ questions as voyeuristic, stigmatizing, or self-protective; (2) patients describe being pathologized, denied or given substandard care, or harmed when clinicians learned they are transgender; (3) transgender people frequently choose between risking stigma when sharing information and risking ineffective clinical problem solving if clinicians do not have all the information about their medical histories; (4) improving the safety of transgender people is difficult in the context of contemporary medical systems.

Since transgender people often have to choose between stigma and potentially suboptimal care, there is therefore the need for “improvements in medical culture, policies, procedures, and data collection tools… to improve the quality and safety of clinical care for transgender people,” the researchers stated. “Institutional and systems changes may be required to safely and effectively implement sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection in clinical settings.”

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