Trafficking in Persons: A Primer for the Health Care Professional  

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Module 1: Introduction to domestic trafficking within the US - 1 hr
Jeff Barrows, DO, MA

This module will provide an introduction to the topic of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) within the United States specifically geared to the healthcare professional. It will discuss the known statistics regarding DMST, predisposing factors, recruiting techniques used by traffickers, as well as briefly describe the demand side of sex trafficking. Finally, the module will briefly give an overview of indicators within the healthcare setting that might suggest that the person is a victim of sex trafficking and specific steps the healthcare professional should take if they suspect a patient is a victim of DMST.

Learning Objectives:
  • Realize the extent of the phenomenon of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST)
  • Identify the signs that a patient may be a potential victim of DMST
  • Take concrete steps if a patient is suspected of being a human trafficking victim.
Module 2: Introduction to International trafficking - 1 hr
Katherine Welch, MD


This module will give an introduction to Trafficking in Persons on the global front, that is, outside of the United States. Information will be broad, but will also highlight areas pertinent to the health care professional. An overview of the definition, the stages, and the forms of trafficking will be given. Current trends and issues will be discussed. Specific health issues and ways health care professionals can get involved in the efforts against human trafficking will be outlined. 

Learning Objectives:
  • Understand definitions, stages, and forms of trafficking in persons (TIP)
  • Discuss perspectives of migration, prostitution, legal, and health issues of international TIP
  • Discuss current trends and issues in the global trafficking situation
    Module 3: The physical health consequences of human trafficking - 1 hr
    Katherine Welch, MD and Gloria Halverson, MD

    Health problems of trafficked people encompass the whole spectrum of diseases, but there are unique challenges to addressing these problems. This module will 1) briefly describe the physical health consequences of trafficking in persons; 2) provide practical measures health practitioners can take to address health issues of trafficked people; and 3) address unique opportunities and challenges that health care professionals have in addressing these issues.

    Learning Objectives:
    • Describe the health risks and the physical health consequences of trafficking in persons (TIP)
    • Take practical measures to address health problems of trafficked people
    • Discuss the public health impact of trafficking in persons
    Module 4: The mental health consequences of human trafficking - 1 hr
    Katherine Welch, MD

    Mental health issues are among the most important problems suffered by victims of human trafficking. However, mental health is also one of the more difficult problems to deal with in this population. This module will outline the more common problems presenting as well as some of the unique challenges to helping the survivors in their mental health.

    Learning Objectives:
    • Describe the various mental health problems suffered by survivors of human trafficking
    • Outline the basic principles of mental health care and follow up in this population
    • Discuss the difficulties and barriers to providing adequate mental health care for survivors of human trafficking
    Module 5:  The identification and medical evaluation of labor trafficking victims - 1 hr
    Katherine Welch, MD and Ruth Downing, MSN RN CNP SANE-A

    This module will address the particular needs (acute and chronic) of survivors of labor trafficking. Health problems may differ depending on the place and nature of the work being done and these will be outlined. The steps health professionals should take to address the various health problems in various settings will be discussed.  

    Learning Objectives:
    • Recognize the forms of trafficking in persons (TIP), in adults and children, for labor purposes
    • Recognize signs and symptoms that may indicate a patient is a victim of labor trafficking
    • Take appropriate steps in the assessment and management of a labor trafficking victim
      Module 6: The identification and medical evaluation of sex trafficking victims - 1 hr
      Jeff Barrows, DO, MA and Ruth Downing, MSN RN CNP SANE-A


      This module will focus on training the health care professional to identify victims of sex trafficking within several healthcare settings by discussing the various identifiers of sex trafficking as well as the types of medical problems victims of sex trafficking tend to present with. The module will also discuss the medical evaluation, screening and triage of a victim of sex trafficking brought into a healthcare setting after being found by law enforcement, or some other agency.

      Module 7: Identification and treatment of long term health consequences - 1 hr
      Gloria Halverson, MD and Clydette Powell, MD, MPH

      This session will identify the long-term health consequences of HT and classify them into various medical and public health categories, thereby allowing the health care professional (HCP) to develop and implement diagnostic and treatment responses, appropriate in either low- or high- resourced settings. The session will also guide the HCP towards selecting primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention measures with an eye to both individualized and community-based approach to health care provision. While pointing out the research gaps about various parameters surrounding long-term health consequences of HT, the session will suggest some avenues for needed research to quantitate and track these issues on both a local and global basis.

      Module 8: Multi-disciplinary care of the trafficked person - 1 hr
      Clydette Powell, MD, MPH

      Working within a team is the most effective means of responding to the needs of a trafficked person, or a trafficked suspect.  The health care professional will need to understand his/her role in relation to other health professionals whose specialties can contribute to the health evaluation of the trafficked person. Moreover, he/she will need to know how to interface most effectively with law enforcement, child protective services, shelter staff, substance abuse and addiction services, and forensic examiners. He/she will also need to know how to develop a plan for  appropriate transition of care.

      Module 9: The health care professional’s role beyond the clinic setting - 1 hr
      Clydette, Powell, MD, MPH

      Responses to trafficking in persons are often categorized as the three P’s: prevention, protection, and prosecution. The health care professional has an opportunity to participate in prevention through advocacy and awareness raising;  protection for TIP victims by working with shelters and aftercare facilities; and to some extent, prosecution of their traffickers through such means as expert witness. Many other channels for engagement are also covered in this module, and describe resources and tools for becoming an abolitionist of modern day slavery.

      Module 10: The spiritual basis for a response to human trafficking - 1 hr
      Jeff Barrows, DO, MA


      This session will discuss the scriptural references that relate to the issue of human trafficking and how they communicate compassion and concern for those who are oppressed. The session will discuss how these scriptures come together to address the needs of orphans, aliens, and those experiencing oppression. Finally, the session will discuss options for healthcare professionals to approach suffering from a physical, emotional and spiritual perspective.

      Module 11: Caring for victims in low resource settings - 1 hr
      Katherine Welch, MD and Gloria Halverson, MD

      This module will address some of the challenges that health professionals face when serving trafficked persons in low-resource settings. Health care practitioners can be prepared to meet a variety of situations without the standard facilities and equipment with some anticipatory guidance. Appropriate protocols may vary depending on whether this is a short term trip or the development of a sustainable long term program. Protocols and procedures developed for effectiveness in low resourced countries will also be presented.
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