Year: 2017 Source: Transgender Health. (2017). 2(1): 17-28. SIEC No: 20170545

Purpose: There are many barriers to reliable healthcare for transgender people that often contribute to delaying or avoiding needed medical care. Yet, few studies have examined whether noninclusive healthcare and delaying needed medical care because of fear of discrimination are associated with poorer health among transgender adults. This study aims to address these gaps in the knowledge base.

Methods: This study analyzed secondary data from a statewide survey of 417 transgender adults in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. Independent variables included noninclusive healthcare from a primary care provider (PCP) and delay of needed medical care because of fear of discrimination. Dependent variables assessed general health and mental health.

Results: Transgender individuals who delayed healthcare because of fear of discrimination had worse general health in the past month than those who did not delay or delayed care for other reasons (B=−0.26, p<0.05); they also had 3.08 greater odds of having current depression, 3.81 greater odds of a past year suicide attempt, and 2.93 greater odds of past year suicidal ideation (p<0.001). After controlling for delayed care because of fear of discrimination, having a noninclusive PCP was not significantly associated with either general health or mental health.

Conclusion: This study suggests a significant association between delaying healthcare because of fear of discrimination and worse general and mental health among transgender adults. These relationships remain significant even when controlling for provider noninclusivity, suggesting that fear of discrimination and consequent delay of care are at the forefront of health challenges for transgender adults. The lack of statistical significance for noninclusive healthcare may be related to the measurement approach used; future research is needed to develop an improved tool for measuring transgender noninclusive healthcare.