Opportunities and Gaps in Primary Care Preventative Health Services for Transgender Patients: A Systemic Review

Transgend Health. 2016 Nov 1;1(1):216-230. doi: 10.1089/trgh.2016.0019. eCollection 2016.


Purpose: Transgender people face barriers to accessing healthcare, resulting in population-level disparities in health outcomes. Little research is available to better understand the receipt of primary healthcare among transgender patients or how the rate of receipt of preventive care may differ among transgender populations. Methods: The medical literature regarding U.S. adult transgender primary healthcare was reviewed using a keyword search strategy: transgender OR transsexual OR transvestite OR gender nonconforming for articles published between January 1, 2001 and June 15, 2015. Studies addressing the following topics as assessed by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were extracted for qualitative review: colorectal cancer screenings, mammography or chest/breast tissue examinations, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, tobacco use and smoking cessation, cervical cancer or human papillomavirus (HPV) screenings, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), annual flu shot, and insurance coverage. Results: The search identified 1304 eligible records, of which 41 discussed transgender primary or preventive care. The majority of studies discussed HIV rates or risk behaviors, while fewer articles addressed pelvic examinations, tobacco use, insurance coverage, and cholesterol screenings. No studies addressed mammography or chest/breast tissue examinations, colorectal screenings, or flu shots. Conclusions: Findings from articles addressing five topics are discussed: HIV, cholesterol screenings, tobacco use, pelvic health, and insurance coverage. Gaps in the extant literature, including the lack of studies of nonbinary people, transgender men of color, and transgender people living outside of large coastal urban centers, are discussed. This review, coincident with other health disparity findings, suggests an urgent need for research that addresses the primary care needs of all transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Keywords: HIV; primary care; sexual health; transgender.

Publication types

  • Review