, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 67-78
Date: 16 Aug 2008

Pathways to Health Risk Exposure in Adult Film Performers

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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.

At the time of the study, Grudzen was with the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Grudzen is now with the Department of Emergency Medicine, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; Ryan is with the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, USA: Margold is with Protecting Adult Welfare, Sherman Oaks, CA, USA; Torres is with the School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Gelberg is with the Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA