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J Emerg Nurs. 2019 Jan;45(1):16-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2018.03.021. Epub 2018 May 17.

Educating Emergency Department Staff on the Identification and Treatment of Human Trafficking Victims.



Hospitalization is one of the few circumstances in which the lives of trafficking victims intersect with the general population. Based on survivor testimonies, the majority of human trafficking victims may receive medical treatment in a hospital's emergency department while in captivity. With evidenced-based training, ED personnel have a better opportunity to screen persons who are being trafficked and intervene on their behalf.


This project examined the efficacy of an innovative, evidence-based online training module ( created by the project team. Participants completed a pre-survey to determine learning needs and a post-survey to determine the effectiveness of the online education. The learning module contained a PowerPoint presentation, identification and treatment guidelines, and 2 realistic case studies.


Data were collected among ED personnel in 2 suburban hospitals located near a northeast metropolitan city. Seventy-five employees participated in the survey and education. Staff completing the education included nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners/physician assistants, registration, and ED technicians. Results indicated that 89% of participants had not received previous human trafficking training. Less than half of the participants stated that they had a comprehensive understanding of human trafficking before the intervention, with an increase to 93% after education. The training module significantly increased confidence in identification (from an average confidence level of 4/10 to 7/10) and treatment (from an average confidence level of 4/10 to 8/10) of human trafficking victims within the emergency department; 96% found the educational module to be useful in their work setting.


Participants reported that they are more confident in identifying a possible trafficking victim and are more likely to screen patients for human trafficking after participation in the online training module. The proposed general guideline for care provided ED personnel with a useful tool in perpetuity. The results of this project, coupled with the growth of worldwide human trafficking, highlights the need for focused human trafficking education within the hospital setting.


Human trafficking; emergency departments; labor trafficking; protocol; sex trafficking; training

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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