Nurses’ attitudes toward female sex workers: A qualitative study

Nursing Ethics 28 (4):563-574 (2021)
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Background:Stigma is considered a major barrier to accessing healthcare services by female sex workers. Current knowledge of nurses’ attitudes appears to imply a stigma toward female sex workers. But in-depth understanding of their perceptions is scarce. Furthermore, factors that inform a conceptual understanding of how this occurs are lacking.Objectives:The study aimed to explore nurses’ attitudes toward female sex workers and factors affecting caring for female sex workers.Research design:This was a qualitative study. A content analysis approach was adopted in analyzing the data.Participants and research context:Thirty-three practicing nurses participated in seven semi-structured focus group interviews and three key informants participated in three individual interviews in Hong Kong.Ethical considerations:This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of one university in Hong Kong.Findings:The findings revealed three themes: (1) accept, stigmatize, or against sex work; (2) reluctance, hesitation, or willingness to care for female sex workers; and (3) factors affecting the care of female sex workers.Discussion and conclusion:This study found that nurses held different attitudes toward female sex workers, and they experienced feelings of reluctance, hesitation, or willingness to care for female sex workers. Multi-level factors could affect their level of comfort of caring for female sex workers. Intervention should be developed to encourage health professionals to examine their personal views toward female sex workers introspectively, how their attitude may have affected the provision of quality services, and to enhance the provision of sensitive non-discriminative services to female sex workers.



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