Factors impacting health seeking behaviors of adult transgender people
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ABSTRACT MATTHEW SCHLUETER, MS, MBA FACTORS IMPACTING HEALTH SEEKING BEHAVIORS OF ADULT TRANSGENDER PEOPLE AUGUST 2020 Transgender people, those who do not identify with the sex traits assigned at birth, are a vulnerable population with unique health risks and they face inequities in seeking care. The factors impacting the health seeking behaviors of transgender people are not well studied, and there is a dearth of qualitative studies available to aid researchers, academia, and healthcare professionals’ understanding of the population’s ability to engage in health seeking behaviors. Using grounded theory as a basis, the study design utilized qualitative semi-structured one-on-one interviews to explore the barriers and supportive structures involved with transgender people’s health seeking behaviors. The study sample (n=30) included adult transgender men and women, and non-binary people, regardless of the stage or type of transition the individual had, or desired in the future. The overall findings of the study revealed an ongoing state of dynamic tension being experienced by transgender people as they desire or actually attempt to engage in health seeking behaviors in the face of impactful factors acting as barriers or supporting influences. Primary barriers to seeking care included fearing, oppression, and lack of access. In contrast, affirming and trusting support structures served to facilitate health seeking behaviors. The results are relevant to nursing, and all healthcare as they inform the profession of the needs of transgender people from both the larger social perspective, and from the participants’ point of view with the healthcare experience. The participants’ rich descriptions of personal experiences and fears relay their challenges in attempting to seek care, that remain hidden to others. Their accounts also help to link encouraging factors present in their lives that tend to be supportive influences that improve their access to care.