Validating a measure of anticipated sex work-related stigma among male and female sex workers in Kenya

Glob Public Health. 2022 Aug 7;1-13. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2022.2105377. Online ahead of print.


Sex workers face different types of sex work-related stigma, which may include anticipated, perceived, experienced, or internalized stigma. Sex work stigma can discourage health care seeking and hamper STI and HIV prevention and treatment efforts. There is a paucity of validated sex work-related stigma measures, and this limits the ability to study the stigma associated with sex work. A cross-sectional survey was conducted that measured anticipated sex work-related stigma among male and female sex workers in Kenya (N = 729). We examined the construct validity and reliability of the anticipated stigma items to establish a conceptually and statistically valid scale. Our analysis supported a 15-item scale measuring five anticipated sex work stigma domains: gossip and verbal abuse from family; gossip and verbal abuse from healthcare workers; gossip and verbal abuse from friends and community; physical abuse; and exclusion. The scale demonstrated good face, content, and construct validity. Reliability was good for all subscales and the overall scale. The scale demonstrated good model fit statistics and good standardized factor loadings. The availability of valid and reliable stigma measures will enhance efforts to characterize and address stigma among sex workers and ultimately support the protection, health and well-being of this vulnerable population.

Keywords: Sex work-related stigma; anticipated stigma; sex workers; sub-Saharan Africa; validation.