Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 67-78

First online:

Pathways to Health Risk Exposure in Adult Film Performers

  • Corita R. GrudzenAffiliated withDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Gery RyanAffiliated withRAND Corporation
  • , William MargoldAffiliated withProtecting Adult Welfare
  • , Jacqueline TorresAffiliated withSchool of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles
  • , Lillian GelbergAffiliated withDepartment of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles

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Despite being part of a large and legal industry in Los Angeles, little is known about adult film performers’ exposure to health risks and when and how these risks might occur. The objective was to identify exposure to physical, mental, and social health risks and the pathways to such risks among adult film performers and to determine how risks differ between different types of performers, such as men and women. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 18 female and ten male performers as well as two key informants from the industry. Performers and key informants were recruited through Protecting Adult Welfare, adult film venues, and snowball sampling. Performers engaged in risky health behaviors that included high-risk sexual acts that are unprotected, substance abuse, and body enhancement. They are exposed to physical trauma on the film set. Many entered and left the industry with financial insecurity and suffered from mental health problems. Women were more likely than men to be exposed to health risks. Adult film performers, especially women, are exposed to health risks that accumulate over time and that are not limited to sexually transmitted diseases.


Health behaviors Health policy Occupational health HIV/AIDS Sexually transmitted diseases Mental health Substance abuse