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Original research
Internet solicitation linked to enhanced occupational health and safety outcomes among sex workers in Metro Vancouver, Canada 2010–2019


Objectives Examine the independent association between online solicitation and sex workers’ (SWs’) occupational health and safety (OHS), particularly violence and work stress.

Methods Data were drawn from a cohort of women SWs (N=942, 2010–2019) in Vancouver, Canada. Analyses used descriptive statistics and bivariate and multivariable logistic and linear regression using generalised estimating equations (GEE); explanatory and confounder modelling approaches were used.

Results 33.9% (n=319) of participants solicited online and 14.1% (n=133) primarily solicited online in the last 6 months in at least one study visit. In multivariable GEE analysis, factors associated with primarily soliciting online included younger age (adjusted OR (AOR) 0.95 per year older, 95% CI 0.93 to 0.97), sexual minority status (AOR 2.57, 95% CI 1.61 to 4.10), gender minority status (AOR 3.09, 95% CI 1.80 to 5.28), higher education (AOR 2.13, 95% CI 1.34 to 3.40), higher sex work income (AOR 1.03 per $100 weekly, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.06), being an im/migrant to Canada (AOR 2.40, 95% CI 1.26 to 4.58) and primarily servicing in informal indoor workspaces (AOR 3.47, 95% CI 2.32 to 5.20). In separate GEE confounder models, primarily soliciting online significantly (1) reduced odds of physical/sexual workplace violence (AOR 0.64, 95% CI 0.39 to 1.06) and (2) reduced work stress (β coefficient −0.93, 95% CI −1.59 to −0.26).

Discussion/conclusions Younger workers, gender/sexual minorities, im/migrants and those in informal indoor spaces had higher odds of soliciting online. Confounder models indicate access to online solicitation methods may support enhanced OHS. Decriminalisation of sex work—including advertising via online platforms—remains necessary to support SWs’ OHS.

  • occupational health
  • public health
  • violence
  • occupational stress
  • wounds and injuries

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Due to our ethical and legal requirements related to protecting participant privacy and current ethical institutional approvals, de-identified data are available only upon request and require ethical approval.

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