Transgender persons' HIV care (dis)engagement: a qualitative evidence synthesis protocol from an ecological systems theory perspective

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Introduction There seems to be little information on interactional patterns of enabling and constraining factors contributing to HIV care engagement across systems and across time. Understanding these patterns from a (micro–meso–macro–exo) systems perspective can provide rich insights on relevant social networks affecting transgender populations. In this review, we will synthesise the wealth of literature on transgender persons’ engagement in the HIV care continuum.

Methods and analysis We will perform a networked systems approach to qualitative evidence synthesis of relevant qualitative research data generated from primary qualitative, mixed-method and evaluation studies exploring HIV care engagement among diverse transgender populations. Studies not using qualitative methods and studies not published in English will be excluded from this review. Empirical studies will be identified via a search in major databases such as PubMed, Scopus, ERIC, Embase, Web of Science, Sociological Abstracts, PsychInfo and Social Services Abstract in January 2019. Two reviewers will independently screen the studies for inclusion, assess their quality and extract data. In case some of the system levels in the network are ill-covered by empirical studies, non-empirical studies will be considered for inclusion. The qualitative evidence synthesis includes a summary of descriptive data (first order), an exploration of relationships between system levels or their components (second order) and a structured summary of research evidence through narrative synthesis. The narrative synthesis will be extended with an overall social network analysis that visualises important nodes and links cutting across ecological systems.

Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required to conduct this review. Review findings will be disseminated via peer-reviewed academic journals and a targeted information campaign towards organisations that work with our population of interest.