Online Program

Quantitative research in adult transgender: A conceptually-informed review

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sarah Maccarthy, DSc, Division of Infectious Diseases, Brown University, Providence, RI
Sari L. Reisner, MA, The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Mei-Fen Yang, Brown University, Providence, RI
Don Operario, PhD, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University, School of Public Health, Providence, RI
Background: The health of transgender individuals and communities has long been overlooked in public health policy, despite emerging research evidence documenting high prevalence rates of negative health indicators. To guide an evidence-informed public health response for the transgender population, we aimed to review and synthesize the published empirical literature on adult transgender health.

Methods: We searched PubMed to identify quantitative articles published through 2012 related to adult transgender health. Articles were excluded if transgender-specific information was not disaggregated from the sample population, if the study only addressed intersex populations, and if the sample focused on youth. Eligible articles were reviewed and categorized thematically to identify trends in research on transgender health.

Results: We identified 9 public health themes characterizing the published empirical research on adult transgender populations: HIV and STIs; mental health; gender affirmation procedures; substance use; social and familial networks; health services; socioeconomic status; stigma and discrimination; global health. The following gaps were identified: Studies focused largely on MTF communities with little research on FTM or non-binary gender identities; small convenience studies were common and were often limited to clinical or community-based samples; non-standardized measures and health indicators were frequently employed; limited recognition of social determinants of health, especially the role of gender affirmation and “syndemics” affecting this population; limited use of theory.

Discussion: Substantial efforts are needed to eliminate the current invisibility of transgender people in public health research, programs, and policies. Reducing transgender public health disparities requires investment in basic research, intervention, and public health services.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Assess the peer-reviewed literature to identify what is known about transgender health research. Identify the remaining gaps in knowledge. Assess directions for future research.

Keyword(s): Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have completed my doctorate at the Harvard School of Public Health with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and am currently conducting research on transgender health in Brazil.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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