Cohort profile: Study of Transition, Outcomes and Gender (STRONG) to assess health status of transgender people

BMJ Open. 2017 Dec 27;7(12):e018121. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018121.


Purpose: The Study of Transition, Outcomes and Gender (STRONG) was initiated to assess the health status of transgender people in general and following gender-affirming treatments at Kaiser Permanente health plans in Georgia, Northern California and Southern California. The objectives of this communication are to describe methods of cohort ascertainment and data collection and to characterise the study population.

Participants: A stepwise methodology involving computerised searches of electronic medical records and free-text validation of eligibility and gender identity was used to identify a cohort of 6456 members with first evidence of transgender status (index date) between 2006 and 2014. The cohort included 3475 (54%) transfeminine (TF), 2892 (45%) transmasculine (TM) and 89 (1%) members whose natal sex and gender identity remained undetermined from the records. The cohort was matched to 127 608 enrollees with no transgender evidence (63 825 women and 63 783 men) on year of birth, race/ethnicity, study site and membership year of the index date. Cohort follow-up extends through the end of 2016.

Findings to date: About 58% of TF and 52% of TM cohort members received hormonal therapy at Kaiser Permanente. Chest surgery was more common among TM participants (12% vs 0.3%). The proportions of transgender participants who underwent genital reconstruction surgeries were similar (4%-5%) in the two transgender groups. Results indicate that there are sufficient numbers of events in the TF and TM cohorts to further examine mental health status, cardiovascular events, diabetes, HIV and most common cancers.

Future plans: STRONG is well positioned to fill existing knowledge gaps through comparisons of transgender and reference populations and through analyses of health status before and after gender affirmation treatment. Analyses will include incidence of cardiovascular disease, mental health, HIV and diabetes, as well as changes in laboratory-based endpoints (eg, polycythemia and bone density), overall and in relation to gender affirmation therapy.

Keywords: cohort; electronic medical records; transgender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transgender Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Young Adult