Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Utilization of health care services and health status of transgender clients at a NYC community health center

Radix, Asa

In 2011 the National Academy of Medicine identified research gaps related to transgender populations and suggested a research agenda that included, among other goals, investigating health outcomes related to transition related care. The overarching goal of this dissertation therefore is to add to the body of knowledge about the state of health of transgender individuals, including utilization of gender-affirming care, preventive care and screening practices for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

This dissertation includes three manuscripts. The first is a retrospective chart review including 1670 transgender patients, aged 18 and up (mean age 35.57 years), at a community health center to examine utilization of gender-affirming procedures as well as investigate the prevalence of smoking and uptake of colon cancer screening compared to New York City benchmarks using data from the New York City Community Health Survey (NYC CHS). The results revealed transgender individuals had high uptake of gender affirming hormones (81.9%) but fewer had undergone gender-affirming surgeries (31.5%). Transgender individuals had almost double the rate of current cigarette smoking compared to adults aged 18 and up in the New York City Community Health Survey (OR=1.92, 95% CI=1.61, 2.28) and also had suboptimal colon cancer screening rates compared to New Yorkers aged 50 and older (OR=0.16, 95% CI=0.11, 0.23).

The second paper is a scoping review of the literature to investigate postoperative outcomes related to vaginoplasty procedures in transgender women. One hundred and three articles met inclusion criteria and provided information on immediate as well as long term health outcomes. The review demonstrated many inconsistencies in the timing of follow-up as well as how outcomes were measured, but provided invaluable information on the many types of postoperative issues that may be seen after vaginoplasty surgery.

Lastly, the third paper examined the prevalence of HIV and STI testing behavior and prevalence of HIV infection among transgender people in a community health center setting. This analysis demonstrated that HIV screening rates were lower than expected (55.7%) given the elevated HIV prevalence in the population. In the multivariate analysis the odds of HIV screening among transmasculine individuals was higher in those who had undergone gender affirming surgeries (OR=1.67, 95% CI= 1.08, 2.58), had a substance use history (OR=5.18, 95% CI=1.41, 18.99) and a history of genital warts (OR=4.64, 95%CI=1.24, 17.34). Among transfeminine individuals the odds of HIV screening were higher in those with only cisgender male partners (OR=2.18, 95% CI=1.52, 3.11), gender affirming surgery (OR=2.56, 95% CI=1.53, 4.31), substance use history (OR=2.76, 95% CI=1.23, 5.78) and genital warts (OR=2.69, 95% CI=1.20, 6.02). HIV prevalence was higher among transfeminine compared to transmasculine individuals (28.1% vs. 2.8%, p<.001). In the multivariable analysis having only cisgender male sex partners increased the odds of HIV infection among transmasculine individuals (OR=10.58, 95% CI=1.33, 84.17), while having at least a high school diploma reduced the odds of infection (OR=0.08, 95% CI=0.01, 0.72). Among transfeminine individuals increased odds of HIV-infection were seen in those who were unemployed (OR=1.7, 95% CI=1.1, 2.64) and those who had a history of genital warts (OR=2.54, 95% CI=1.37, 4.70). White individuals had a lower likelihood of HIV infection (OR=0.40, 95%CI=0.21, 0.73).

Overall these three studies provide important information about transition-related, primary and preventive healthcare for transgender populations. The findings of elevated cigarette smoking, underutilization of colorectal cancer screening and low HIV and STI screening rates occurred in this study despite the fact that transgender people were engaged in medical care. Clinics and other health settings that provide transgender health services should include robust metrics for monitoring uptake of preventive health care services and work to improve uptake of services when disparities are evident.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Larson, Elaine L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 24, 2020