OBJECTIVE: There is limited information available about the mental health of female sex workers. Therefore, we aimed to make a comprehensive assessment of the mental status of female sex workers over different outdoors and indoors work settings and nationalities.
METHOD: As the prerequisites of a probability sampling were not given, a quota-sampling strategy was the best possible alternative. Sex workers were contacted at different locations in the city of Zurich. They were interviewed with a computerized version of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Additional information was assessed in a structured face-to-face interview.
RESULTS: The 193 interviewed female sex workers displayed high rates of mental disorders. These mental disorders were related to violence and the subjectively perceived burden of sex work.
CONCLUSION: Sex work is a major public health problem. It has many faces, but ill mental health of sex workers is primarily related to different forms of violence.