Resilience in work-related stress among female sex workers in Hong Kong

Winnie Wing Yan Yuen, William Chi Wai Wong, Eleanor Holroyd, Catherine So Kum Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on positive psychology and resilience demonstrates that individuals utilize their personal strengths and environmental resources to facilitate positive adaptation. Using a qualitative approach, we investigated how these frameworks operated as self-protective strategies for female sex workers to maintain their psychological and physical well-being under stressful socioeconomic and work-related conditions. Twenty-three female sex workers in Hong Kong participated in in-depth interviews. We used the grounded theory approach for data analysis. The informants reported negative feelings in response to financial burden, clients' demands, threats to physical health, and stigma. Some female sex workers showed their resilience by being able to rationalize their role, believe their ability to make a change in life, and stay optimistic. They adopted strategies including emotional regulation and acceptance of their responsibility and limits to cope with stressful life events. The results help us understand the role of positive psychology and resilience in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1241
Number of pages10
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • coping and adaptation
  • mental health and illness
  • research, qualitative
  • resilience
  • sex workers
  • women's health


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