Purpose: Both affirming environments and access to gender-affirming medical care have a positive impact on the mental health of transgender and gender diverse (TGD) youth, however, many TGD youth experience barriers in accessing this care. Pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) can play an important role in expanding access to gender-affirming care for TGD youth; however, few currently provide this care. The purpose of this study was to explore pediatric PCPs' perspectives regarding barriers they experience to providing gender-affirming care in the primary care setting.
Methods: Pediatric PCPs who had sought out support from the Seattle Children's Gender Clinic were recruited via email to participate in semistructured, one-hour Zoom interviews. All interviews were transcribed and then subsequently analyzed in Dedoose qualitative analysis software using a reflexive thematic analysis framework.
Results: Provider participants (n = 15) represented a wide range of experiences with respect to years in practice, number of TGD youth seen, and practice location (urban, rural, suburban). PCPs identified both health system and community-level barriers to providing gender-affirming care to TGD youth. Health system-level barriers included: (1) lack of foundational knowledge and skills, (2) limited clinical decision-making support, and (3) health system design limitations. Community-level barriers included (1) community and institutional biases, (2) provider attitudes regarding gender-affirming care provision, and (3) challenges identifying community resources to support TGD youth.
Discussion: A multitude of health system and community-level barriers must be overcome in the pediatric primary care setting to ensure that TGD youth receive timely, effective, and more equitable gender-affirming care.
Keywords: Barriers to providing care; Pediatric gender affirming care; Primary care.
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