Receipt of evidence-based alcohol-related care in a national sample of transgender patients with unhealthy alcohol use: Overall and relative to non-transgender patients

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Dec:131:108565. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108565. Epub 2021 Jul 8.


Background/objective: Evidence-based alcohol-related care-brief intervention for all patients with unhealthy alcohol use and specialty addictions treatment and/or pharmacotherapy for patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD)-should be routinely offered. Transgender persons may be particularly in need of alcohol-related care, given common experiences of social and economic hardship that may compound the adverse effects of unhealthy alcohol use. We examined receipt of alcohol-related care among transgender patients compared to non-transgender patients in a large national sample of Veterans Health Administration (VA) outpatients with unhealthy alcohol use.

Methods: We extracted electronic health record data for patients from all VA facilities who had an outpatient visit 10/1/09-7/31/17 and a documented positive screen for unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C ≥ 5). We identified transgender patients with a validated approach using transgender-related diagnostic codes. We fit modified Poisson models, adjusted for demographics and comorbidities, to estimate the average predicted prevalence of brief intervention (documented 0-14 days following most recent positive screening), specialty addictions treatment for AUD (documented 0-365 days following screening), and filled prescriptions for medications to treat AUD (documented 0-365 days following screening) for transgender patients, and compared to that of non-transgender patients.

Results: Among transgender Veterans with unhealthy alcohol use (N = 1392), the adjusted prevalence of receiving brief intervention was 75.4% (95% CI 72.2-78.5), specialty addictions treatment for AUD was 15.7% (95% CI 13.7-17.7), and any AUD pharmacotherapy was 19.0% (95% CI 17.1-20.8). Receipt of brief intervention did not differ for transgender relative to non-transgender patients (Prevalence Ratio [PR] 1.01, 95% CI 0.98-1.04, p = 0.574). However, transgender patients were more likely to receive specialty addictions treatment (PR 1.24, 95% CI 1.12-1.37, p < 0.001) and pharmacotherapy (PR 1.16, 95% CI 1.06-1.28, p = 0.002).

Conclusions: Findings suggest the majority of transgender VHA patients with unhealthy alcohol use receive brief intervention, though a quarter still do not. Nonetheless, rates of specialty addictions treatment and pharmacotherapy are low overall, although transgender patients may be receiving this care at greater rates than non-transgender patients. Further research is needed to investigate these findings and to increase receipt of evidence-based care overall.

Keywords: Alcohol related care; Evidence-based care; LGBTQ; Transgender; Unhealthy alcohol use; Veterans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcoholism* / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism* / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Transgender Persons*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans*