Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Patients in the Emergency Department: What Physicians Know, Think, and Do

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Study objectiveWe explore self-reported knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of emergency physicians in regard to the care of transgender and gender-nonconforming patients to identify opportunities to improve care of this population.MethodsFrom July to August 2016, we electronically surveyed the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Emergency Medicine Practice-Based Research Network of 654 active emergency physician participants. We performed frequency tabulations to analyze the closed-ended response items.ResultsOf the 399 respondents (61% response rate), 88.0% reported caring for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients in the emergency department (ED), although 82.5% had no formal training about this population. The majority of physicians (86.0%) were comfortable asking about personal pronouns. Only 26.1% of respondents knew the most common gender-affirming surgery for female-to-male patients; 9.8% knew the most common nonhormone gender-affirming medication that male-to-female patients use. Almost no respondents (<3%) were aware of emergency medicine practitioners’ performing inappropriate examinations on transgender and gender-nonconforming patients.ConclusionAlthough transgender and gender-nonconforming people represent a minority of ED patients nationwide, the majority of respondents reported personally providing care to members of this population. Most respondents lacked basic clinical knowledge about transgender and gender-nonconforming care.

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