Online Program

Evidence of risky health behavior in online ads for escorts

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Shana Judge, MPP, JD, PhD, University of New Mexico College of Nursing, RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative, Albuquerque, NM
Background/significance: Online advertisements for escort-based prostitution have increased dramatically in the past decade. Many ads have included information about specific sexual acts in which escorts are willing to participate. These acts may place an escort's sexual health and physical safety at risk. Objective/purpose: Although risky behavior among escorts cannot be directly measured, related latent behaviors may be inferred from information escorts include in their ads. An analysis of this information may help determine whether these behaviors present health risks to the escort herself or to johns and others. Methods: In February, 2010, we collected data on escort activity advertised on the website “” in three North Carolina cities. To determine whether the ads provided evidence of latent risky behaviors, we analyzed the data using exploratory factor analysis. We developed a scale that gave escorts a score for each latent behavior we found. Using OLS regression, we analyzed relationships between these scores and escorts' advertised age and race. Results: Exploratory factor analysis resulted in a three-factor solution. Items escorts chose to advertise reflected three latent behaviors that may be described as: risky sexual behavior; unconventional sexual behavior; and autonomy/popularity. Average scores for risky and unconventional sexual behavior were relatively low, with escorts who advertised themselves as being black scoring lower their white counterparts. Average scores for autonomy/popularity were relatively high. Discussion/conclusion: Although the first latent behavior presents health risks for escorts and johns, these risks could be mediated by the finding that a majority of escorts appeared to be fairly autonomous.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the three latent risky behaviors that appear to be reflected in advertisements that escorts have posted online. Assess the risks to escorts’ health and physical safety that may be revealed by these latent behaviors.

Keyword(s): Risky Behaviors, Sexual Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: While I was a doctoral student in Public Policy, I served as Principal Investigator for a federal grant from the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, examining community-level factors associated with sex trafficking and prostitution. That work has led to several of my current research projects that examine the public health implications of prostitution and related crimes.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.