Delays in gender affirming healthcare due to COVID-19 are mitigated by expansion of telemedicine

Am J Surg. 2023 Feb;225(2):367-373. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2022.09.036. Epub 2022 Sep 23.

Abstract

Background: Gender-affirming healthcare is vital for transgender and gender diverse (TGD) patients, and during the pandemic, accessing healthcare became challenging. Hypothesizing that many had procedures postponed, we sought to characterize the impact of the pandemic on TGD patients.

Methods: A mixed-methods approach was employed, combining surveys and interviews; Duke patients were identified by ICD-10 codes, while non-Duke (national) patients were recruited through online social media.

Results: All specialties increased telemedicine usage during the pandemic. Duke surgical patients reported a nearly three-fold increase in telemedicine access. COVID-19 symptoms were reported by 24% of Duke and 20% of national patients; barriers to urgent care included the fear of discrimination (27%).

Conclusion: Delays were experienced in all domains of care, mitigated in part by telemedicine. Nearly one-third of patients cite discrimination as a barrier to care. Though pandemic-related expansion of telemedicine may be a marker of success, significant barriers still complicate delivery of healthcare.

Keywords: COVID-19; Delays; Gender affirming care; Telehealth; Trans health; Transgender.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine*
  • Transgender Persons*