Evaluation of Patient-Oriented, Internet-Based Information on Gender-Affirming Hormone Treatments

Madeline B Deutsch
LGBT Health 2016, 3 (3): 200-7

PURPOSE: Transgender people have difficulty accessing gender-affirming hormone therapy (HT), a medically necessary treatment, in part due to a lack of provider knowledge. Patients often seek information on gender-affirming medical care using the Internet. Patients who are better informed about their own care may receive better care. This study evaluated the quantity and quality of online information about HT using several existing and novel measures.

METHODS: Structured Google searches were conducted. Sites were evaluated using previously described Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), DISCERN, and Health On the Net (HON) criteria, for citation of the Endocrine Society Guidelines and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care (SOC), and other topic-specific measures.

RESULTS: Forty sites were evaluated. The median JAMA score was 3.5/7, and the median DISCERN score was 51/80. No sites held HON certification. Citation of the Endocrine Society Guidelines and the WPATH SOC was inconsistent. Institutional sites had higher DISCERN scores compared with other sites. The presence of a bibliography was most associated with measures of quality.

CONCLUSION: The quality of online information about HT is inconsistent and limited in quantity. Development of reliable online resources on HT for transgender patients is essential. Broadening awareness of key guidelines from the Endocrine Society and WPATH is essential.

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