Date of Award

6-19-2017

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN)

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Joyce Miller

Second Advisor

Katie Clark

Third Advisor

Kristin McHale

Abstract

Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is a violation of human rights and a public health issue. Affecting millions worldwide, a high prevalence of human trafficking exists in the United States (US). Traffickers target vulnerable victims in an effort, through coercion and exploitation, to benefit financially, perpetuating the issue of supply and demand. Lacking a specific demographic, traffickers opportunistically seek out victims, such as targeting runaway and homeless youth, those sold through poverty, or those surviving in conditions caused by natural disaster. Multidisciplinary health care staff are uniquely positioned to recognize, assess, and intervene when encountering victims who seek medical care in an emergency room (ER) while under the control of their trafficker. Healthcare workers, however, lack education on how to recognize or interact with human trafficking victims, which contributes to missed opportunities for victim intervention and rescue. This project outlines a protocol to educate multidisciplinary staff working in the ER to recognize common red flags associated with human trafficking, to train providers to use trauma-informed care (TIC) principles infused with Watson's Carative Factors when assessing patients, and outlines a plan to create a resource toolkit to efficiently match interventions to the unique presentation of a suspected victim. A care protocol for human trafficking victims is one step nurses can take to highlight the need to care for this vulnerable population. Nurses can also drive research, vet assessment tools, and initiate or endorse legislation to aid victims in the fight against human trafficking.

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