Emergency Clinicians' Comfort Levels in Caring for Transgender Patients

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Transgend Health


OBJECTIVE: Transgender individuals report negative experiences in emergency department settings, but little is known about emergency clinicians' barriers to treating transgender patients. The purpose of this study was to explore emergency clinicians' experiences with transgender patients to better understand their comfort with caring for this population.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of emergency clinicians in an integrated health system in the Midwest. To assess the relationship between each independent variable and the outcome variables (i.e., comfort level generally and comfort level asking transgender patients about their body parts specifically), Mann-Whitney U test or Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance was conducted for categorical independent variables and Pearson correlations were conducted for continuous independent variables.

RESULTS: Most participants (90.1%) were comfortable caring for transgender patients, whereas two-thirds (67.9%) were comfortable asking transgender patients about body parts. Although none of the independent variables was associated with increased clinician comfort level caring for transgender patients in general, White clinicians and those who were unsure how to ask patients about their gender identity or transgender-specific care they had received were less comfortable asking about body parts.

CONCLUSION: Having skills to communicate with transgender patients was associated with emergency clinicians' comfort levels. In addition to offering traditional classroom-based didactics about transgender health care, providing opportunities for clinical rotations that allow clinicians-in-training to treat, and perhaps more importantly, learn from transgender patients will likely be higher yield in bolstering clinician confidence in serving this patient population.

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