Barrow, Jennifer F., Helen A. Combes, & Lucy Rathbone (2021, February). Using Q-methodology to explore what is valued from child sexual exploitation services: The importance of safety. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1080/10538712.2021.1894294) (Link:

Abstract: Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a complex international issue requiring specialist multi-agency support. There is evidence that survivors of CSE are likely to experience mental health difficulties and have long-term psychological needs in response to trauma. However evidence regarding services and interventions for these difficulties is limited. This study explored viewpoints of key stakeholders, such as young people and frontline staff, about CSE services. Participants were recruited from services that support young people who have experienced CSE. The sample consisted of 18 participants; nine young people and nine professionals. Q-methodology was used to investigate subjective viewpoints regarding this topic. Statements about CSE interventions and services were collected from the existing literature and validated to form a Q-set. Participants sorted the Q-set from most to least important. Q-sorts were subjected to factor analysis using Q-methodology software. Three factors were identified: (1) The importance of safety and attunement, (2) Managing trauma and mental health difficulties and (3) Family, normality, and a relaxed approach. All factors emphasized the importance of safety and trust between young people and professionals. Key areas that may benefit service design were identified. Primarily, young people are likely to benefit from specialist support promoting a trauma-informed and relational approach.

Jennifer F Barrow <> is at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Shropshire, Shrewsbury, UK.