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.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.