Experiences and Interactions with the Healthcare System in Transgender and Non-Binary Patients in Austria: An Exploratory Cross-Sectional Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 27;18(13):6895. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18136895.


Medical care of transgender and non-binary (TNB) patients if often a complex interdisciplinary effort involving a variety of healthcare workers (HCWs) and services. Physicians not only act as gatekeepers to routine or transitioning therapies but are also HCWs with the most intimate and time-intensive patient interaction, which influences TNB patients' experiences and health behaviors and healthcare utilization. The aim of this study was to investigate the physician-patient relationship in a sample of TNB individuals within the Austrian healthcare system, and explore its associations with sociodemographic, health-, and identity-related characteristics. A cross-sectional study utilizing an 56-item online questionnaire, including the Patient-Doctor Relationship Questionnaire 9 (PDRQ-9), was carried out between June and October 2020. The study involved TNB individuals 18 or older, residing in Austria, and previously or currently undergoing medical transition. In total, 91 participants took part, of whom 33.0% and 25.3% self-identified as trans men and trans women, respectively, and 41.8% as non-binary. Among participants, 82.7% reported being in the process of medical transitioning, 58.1% perceived physicians as the most problematic HCWs, and 60.5% stated having never or rarely been taken seriously in medical settings. Non-binary participants showed significantly lower PDRQ-9 scores, reflecting a worse patient-physician relationship compared to trans male participants. TNB patients in Austria often report negative experiences based on their gender identity. Physicians should be aware of these interactions and reflect potentially harmful behavioral patterns in order to establish unbiased and trustful relations.

Keywords: gender-nonconforming; health behavior; healthcare utilization; non-binary; physician–patient relationship; trans; transgender.

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Transgender Persons*