The PHS research project All Gender Health is now recruiting participants to assist in the evaluation of a transgender health promotion program. This is the culmination of a multi-year project funded by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) to look at the health and well-being of transgender people and their partners. This is one of the first projects to look at the community as a whole, surveying people across the gender spectrum, and targeting health promotion to those who need it most. All Gender Health will be enrolling participants through May 24, 2012.
All Gender Health is a web-based research project examining the effectiveness of an online activity-based sexual health intervention. Previous phases of the All Gender Health project involved qualitative and quantitative data gathered from a national sample of the transgender population as well as the male partners of transgender people, which informed the development of the current and final phase. This final phase is the evaluation of a website comprised of 22 different topics in 8 different modules developed by community members across the country. Designed to meet users where they are, www.allgenderhealth.org allows each participant to identify goals around topics such as identity, community, resilience, , dating and relationships, and sexual health negotiation. Users then craft a plan toward those objectives in a simple, individualized way.
Over the past few years, a research team led by Walter Bockting, PhD, has worked closely with software engineers to custom build a research and intervention platform for this project. Project coordinator, Chris Hoefer, describes the intervention as, "What used to be an all-weekend, two-day seminar with high level presentations and smaller group discussions has now been transformed into an interactive web-based experience that anyone anywhere can visit at their leisure in the comfort of their own home. You only need access to a computer and the internet and you can draw on the knowledge and experiences of a broad collection of educators, entertainers, physicians, therapists, advocates, and community members."
Hoefer sees access as a huge advantage to the online format of health promotion. Another advantage is the ability to upload new content and intervention modules as new knowledge becomes available.
As with all things web-based, unforeseen challenges arose as study participants worked through the project. This means that Hoefer and his team must occasionally act as technology support when users find themselves using incompatible web browsers, video players and device hardware. "A unique challenge to a project like this is the rapid change in technology," says Hoefer. "Some of the elements built just a few years ago have already needed updates and the hardware being used to access it is obviously different. Nobody even knew what an iPad was when we began this process. But that's one of the inspiring questions: how can we use these tools to bring sexual health information to people where they're able to absorb it?"
Findings from this study will be used to develop further online interventions to promote the health and well-being of transgender people and their partners.
The All Gender Health research team includes Walter Bockting, PhD (principal investigator), Eli Coleman, PhD, Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD, Cesar Gonzalez, PhD, Stephanie Hengst, Chris Hoefer (project coordinator), Keith Horvath, PhD (epidemiology), Michael Miner, PhD, Bean Robinson, PhD, , Rebecca Swinburne Romine, PhD, and David Valentine, PhD (anthropology).