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Ugeskr Laeger. 2005 Sep 26;167(39):3692-6.

[Street prostitution and drug addiction].

[Article in Danish]

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  • 1Socialmedicinsk Klinik, Glostrup.



Street-based prostitution accounts for 10% of the prostitution activity in Denmark, mainly involving female drug addicts. We studied a group of women with a common history of substance abuse and their comparative psychosocial characteristics, correlated with whether they had previously been a prostitute or not. Their psychic symptoms were evaluated and compared with those of controls.


27 females receiving maintenance treatment for substance abuse completed a questionnaire dealing with their social background, substance abuse profile, and history of sexual abuse and prostitution, as well as their current health status, including SCL-90. The scores were compared to those of a control group of an age- and gender-matched Danish standard population.


Neglect in childhood and adulthood corresponded to international findings. 14 of the women had previous sex-trading experience, and early use of heroin and cocaine was a predictor for starting a career in prostitution. The SCL-90 scores for the dimensions of somatization and depression were significantly higher for drug-abusing women in general than in the control group. The scores of drug-abusing former prostitutes were similarly significantly higher on most of the dimensions except the hostility dimension when compared to those of drug-abusing women who had never been involved in prostitution. Rape and domestic violence were characteristic phenomena among drug-abusing prostitutes (p < or = 0.05).


Victimization during childhood and adulthood constitutes a serious risk for generating social vulnerability through drug addiction and prostitution. Various psychosocial stress factors among street-based prostitutes indicate the need for broader psychiatric approaches in Danish drug addiction maintenance programmes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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