NIH Spends $238K to Study Telemedicine for Trangender Women of Color

July 22, 2014 - 2:43 PM

Transgender Rights

Transgender actress Laverne Cox  (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $237,750 grant to George Washington University to study whether the use of telemedicine can help overcome barriers to care for transgender women of color.

“The transgender population is a medically underserved and understudied population with myriad barriers to care. Discrimination, substance abuse, violence, stigma, HIV/STI risk behaviors, and social isolation challenge delivery of primary and specialty services for transgender women of color (transwomen, TW), and thus new models of care are urgently needed,” the grant abstract said.

“By providing real-time access to culturally-sensitive care for TW remotely, we can overcome frequently encountered structural barriers. This study offers the opportunity to translate highly effective telemedicine methods to a population on whom this approach has not yet been tested,” it said.

The study is comprised of two phases. First, “key informant interviews” will be conducted with providers of transgender women and “key informant interviews and focus groups” with transgender women to “evaluate the acceptability of the telemedicine approach.”

Second, researchers will use “peer-referral” to recruit 25 out-of-care transgender women who will have a three-month comparison period followed by a three-month telemedicine/virtual medical home pilot study period.”

“This aim will assess the feasibility of the approach and its association with primary outcomes including intention to seek care and healthcare utilization behavior. If successful, telemedicine may offer an innovative strategy for a medically underserved and vulnerable population in urgent need of healthcare services,” the grant said.

The project start date is listed as July 16, 2013 with an end date of March 31, 2015. The budget start date is listed as April 1, 2014 with a budget end date of March 31, 2015.

When CNSNews.com reached out to Manya Magnus, project leader for the grant, for comment, a spokesperson for the GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health told CNSNews.com that Magnus could not comment, because she was still in the data collection stage and was not at the stage where she could talk about the grant.