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The relationship between social, policy and physical venue features and social cohesion on condom use for pregnancy prevention among sex workers: a safer indoor work environment scale


Background This study aims to report on a newly developed Safer Indoor Work Environmental Scale that characterises the social, policy and physical features of indoor venues and social cohesion; and using this scale, longitudinally evaluate the association between these features on sex workers’ (SWs’) condom use for pregnancy prevention.

Methods Drawing on a prospective open cohort of female SWs working in indoor venues, a newly developed Safer Indoor Work Environment Scale was used to build six multivariable models with generalised estimating equations (GEE), to determine the independent effects of social, policy and physical venue-based features and social cohesion on condom use.

Results Of 588 indoor SWs, 63.6% used condoms for pregnancy prevention in the last month. In multivariable GEE analysis, the following venue-based features were significantly correlated with barrier contraceptive use for pregnancy prevention: managerial practices and venue safety policies (adjusted OR (AOR)=1.09; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.17), access to sexual and reproductive health services/supplies (AOR=1.10; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.20), access to drug harm reduction (AOR=1.13; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.28) and social cohesion among workers (AOR=1.05; 95% CI 1.03 to 1.07). Access to security features was marginally associated with condom use (AOR=1.13; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.29).

Conclusions The findings of the current study highlight how work environment and social cohesion among SWs are related to improved condom use. Given global calls for the decriminalisation of sex work, and potential legislative reforms in Canada, this study points to the critical need for new institutional arrangements (eg, legal and regulatory frameworks; labour standards) to support safer sex workplaces.

  • Cohort studies
  • Measurement tool Development

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