Exploring Transgender Adolescents’ Information Seeking and Health-Related Content on Social Media

Project start date and end date: 01/2017- ongoing

Transgender youth are at high risk for substantial morbidity, and mortality in adolescence and into adulthood.  Suboptimal psychosocial support for transgender youth can contribute to homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicide.  Social media may represent a novel approach to filling the gaps in support these youth experience, and the proposed study is well positioned to establish an understanding of the ways transgender youth use social media and ways it could be leveraged for improvement in their quality of life; at present, this information is nearly non-existent.

The objective of this study is to empirically evaluate social media content as a context in which transgender youth represent and view behaviors. Specific aims include:

  • Understand the relationship between social media and gender identity development, information access, and social support.
  • Identify and quantify health topics shared on social media that are relevant to transgender youth.

Research Topics & Methods:

  • Semi-structured qualitative interviewing
  • Content analysis of social media posts

Improving medical and psychosocial support for transgender youth is a key component of increasing access to care and preventing psychiatric comorbidity and suicide in this marginalized population, as well as ensuring that transgender youth have access to safe, reliable medical information about transition. Social media platforms are ideal venues for delivering novel support and health messaging interventions, given the continued growth of social media among the adolescent population. This study will shed light on the scope of transgender related social media content. Results may aid health care providers who see transgender patients in the office by providing education about the unique issues and questions these youth face, as well as teachable moments when counseling transgender patients and their parents in the office.

The project is funded by the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics.

Project Manager:
Victoria Adkins

300 North Ingalls, Rm 6D09
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5456

Phone: 734-232-2165
Email: vadktori@med.umich.edu

For more information, please contact:
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine
300 North Ingalls, Rm 6E07
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5456