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The demand for pediatric gender-affirming care has increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the need for telehealth-based specialist-to-primary care provider (PCP) consultative support. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to identify PCPs’ perspectives on receiving training and consultation in pediatric gender-affirming care using three telehealth modalities, with the larger goal of informing the development of future consultative support offerings.
PCPs who had previously reached out to the Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic for a gender care consultation were invited to participate in a semi-structured, one-hour Zoom interview. During the interview, three different telehealth modalities (tele-education, electronic consultation, telephonic consultation) were described and participants were asked to share their perspectives on 1) the benefits and drawbacks of each modality, 2) which modality would be most effective in supporting them in providing gender-affirming care in the primary care setting, and 3) factors that would make a consultation platform successful. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis framework by two authors using Dedoose qualitative analysis software. All participants provided informed consent and all study procedures were approved by the Seattle Children’s Institutional Review Board.
Interviews were completed with 15 PCPs. For the tele-education platform, PCPs most often identified continuing medical education (67%) and the community or network it creates (47%) as benefits and the commitment required (73%) and scheduling difficulties (40%) as drawbacks. For the electronic consultation model, timeliness of response (67%) and convenience (53%) were cited as benefits and electronic medical record system requirements (60%) and difficulty conveying the message electronically (53%) were considered the main drawbacks. For the telephonic consultation, PCPs identified the ability to have a conversation (80%) and the timeliness of response (60%) as the main benefits and phone-tag (87%) and finding time to make the initial call (40%) as the main drawbacks. Regarding the most effective platform, responses were mixed: 27% endorsed the electronic consultation, 27% the tele-education platform, and 20% the telephonic consultation, with the remaining 27% suggesting a hybrid of the three models. Finally, responses regarding what would make a platform successful were much more varied across participants, with the most common responses including being non-judgmental and supportive (33%) and flexible with the ability to pivot to other platforms as needed (27%).
With the increasing demand to provide gender-affirming care in the primary care setting, further training and support is necessary for pediatric PCPs to deliver this time-sensitive care. The results of this study indicate the need for a more flexible suite of gender-focused specialist-to-PCP telehealth-based consultative services to facilitate the provision of pediatric gender-affirming care.
Sources of Support
This project was supported by the Seattle Children's Research Institute and AHRQ (K12HS026393-03; PI: Sequeira) and a grant from Pivotal Ventures.