“Primary care is primary care”: Use of Normalization Process Theory to explore the implementation of primary care services for transgender individuals in Ontario
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BACKGROUND: In Ontario, Canada, healthcare for transgender individuals is accessed through primary care; however, there are a limited number of practitioners providing transgender care, and patients are often on waiting lists and/or traveling great distances to receive care. Understanding how primary care is implemented and delivered to transgender individuals is key to improving access and eliminating healthcare barriers. The purpose of this study is to understand how the implementation of primary care services for transgender individuals compares across various models of primary care delivery in Ontario. METHODS: A qualitative, exploratory, multiple-case study guided by Normalization Process Theory (NPT) was used to compare transgender care delivery and implementation across three primary care models. Three cases known to provide transgender primary care and represent different primary care models in Ontario, Canada (i.e., family health team, community health centre, fee-for service physician) were explored. The NoMAD survey, a tool to measure implementation processes, and qualitative interviews with primary care practitioners and allied healthcare staff were administered. RESULTS: Using the NPT framework to guide analysis, key themes emerged about successful implementation of primary care services for transgender individuals. These themes include creating a safe space for patients, identifying gaps in services, understanding practitioners' roles, and the need for more training and education in transgender care for practitioners. CONCLUSIONS: Primary care services for transgender individuals can and should be delivered in all models of primary care. Training and awareness for healthcare practitioners are needed to develop capacity in providing primary care to transgender individuals. A greater number of practitioners and organizations are needed to take on this work, embedding and normalizing transgender care into routine practice to address barriers to access and improve quality of care for transgender individuals.
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