Meeting the Needs of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth: Formative Research on Potential Digital Health Interventions

Steinke, J. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: January 17 2017

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Purpose: Sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY) have unique risk factors and worse health outcomes than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. SGMY’s significant online activity represents an opportunity for digital interventions. To help meet the sex education and health needs of SGMY and to understand what they consider important, formative research was conducted to guide and inform the development of new digital health interventions.

 

Conclusions: Any digital intervention for SGMY should focus on mental health and well-being holistically rather than solely on risk behaviors, such as preventing HIV. Interventions should include opportunities for interpersonal connection, foster a sense of belonging, and provide accurate information about sexuality and gender to help facilitate positive identity development. Content and delivery of digital interventions should appeal to diverse sexualities, genders, and other intersecting identities held by SGMY to avoid further alienation.

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Enhancing Pediatric Trainees’ and Students’ Knowledge in Providing Care to Transgender Youth

Vance Jnr., S.R. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: January 05 2017

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Purpose: To enhance pediatric trainees’ and students’ knowledge of the psychosocial and medical issues facing transgender youth through a comprehensive curriculum.

 

Conclusions: A comprehensive curriculum comprised interactive online modules and an observational experience in a pediatric gender clinic was effective at improving pediatric learners’ perceived knowledge of the medical and psychosocial issues facing transgender youth. Learners also highly valued the curriculum.

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Mental Health Disparities Among Canadian Transgender Youth

Veale, J.F. et al. (2017) Journal of Adolescent Health. 60(1) pp. 44–49

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Purpose: This study documented the prevalence of mental health problems among transgender youth in Canada and made comparisons with population-based studies. This study also compared gender identity subgroups and age subgroups (14–18 and 19–25).

Conclusions: Although a notable minority of transgender youth did not report negative health outcomes, this study shows the mental health disparities faced by transgender youth in Canada are considerable.

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Differences in Mental Health Symptoms Across Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth in Primary Care Settings

Shearer, A. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Available online 1 April 2016

Purpose: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) youth exhibit significantly higher rates of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and nonsuicidal self-injury than their heterosexual peers. Past studies tend to group LGBQ youth together; however, more recent studies suggest subtle differences in risk between sexual minority groups. This study examined differences in mental health symptoms across male and female youth who are attracted to the same sex (gay and lesbian), opposite sex (heterosexual), both sexes (bisexual), or are unsure of whom they were attracted to (questioning) in a sample of 2,513 youth (ages 14–24 years).

Methods: Data were collected using the Behavioral Health Screen—a Web-based screening tool that assesses psychiatric symptoms and risk behaviors—during routine well visits.

Results: Bisexual and questioning females endorsed significantly higher scores on the depression, anxiety, and traumatic distress subscales than did heterosexual females. Lesbians, bisexual females, and questioning females all exhibited significantly higher lifetime suicide scores than heterosexual females. Interestingly, bisexual females exhibited the highest current suicide scores. Gay and bisexual males endorsed significantly higher scores on the depression and traumatic distress subscales than did heterosexual males. Gay males also exhibited higher scores on the anxiety subscale than heterosexual males, with bisexual males exhibiting a nonsignificant trend toward higher scores as well.

Conclusions: Findings highlight varying level of risk across subgroups of LGBQ youth and suggest the importance of considering LGBQ groups separately in the context of a behavioral health assessment, especially for females.

Read the abstract here

Psychiatric diagnoses in young transgender women

ScienceDaily, 21 March 2016.

Image shows  ink and watercolour illustration depicting the brain of someone suffering from depression.

About 41 percent of young transgender women had one or more mental health or substance dependence diagnoses and nearly 1 in 5 had two or more psychiatric diagnoses in a study of participants enrolled in a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention intervention trial, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

Transgender youth — including adolescent and young adult transgender women assigned a male sex at birth who identify as girls, women, transgender women, transfemale, male-to-female or another diverse gender identity on the transfeminine spectrum — are a vulnerable population at risk for negative mental health and substance use outcomes.

The authors report prevalence for:

  • Lifetime and current major depressive episodes were 35.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively
  • Past 30-day suicidality was 20.2 percent
  • Past 6-month generalized anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder were 7.9 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively
  • Past 12-month alcohol dependence and nonalcohol psychoactive substance use were 11.2 percent and 15.2 percent, respectively

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research abstract here