Background: Human trafficking is a serious problem and healthcare workers are in a position to intervene. This study sought to determine the knowledge levels of healthcare providers who are most likely to be in direct contact with a victim of human trafficking.
Methods: An anonymous survey assessing knowledge of specific topics of human trafficking was developed and distributed online. Demographic information and questions pertaining to training and knowledge of trafficking in a healthcare setting were asked. The primary outcomes were descriptive statistics and secondary outcomes were comparisons among demographic groups. Qualitative methodology via content analysis was implemented on an open-ended question.
Results: The 6,603 respondents represented all regions of the country. Medical, nursing, and physician assistant students comprised 23% of the sample, while 40% were either physicians, fellows, or residents. Less than half the respondents (42%) have received formal training in human trafficking, while an overwhelming majority (93%) believe they would benefit by such training. Overall, respondents thought their level of knowledge of trafficking was average to below average (mean=2.64 on a 5-point scale). There were significant differences in knowledge of trafficking by age group (p<.001), region (p<.001), and educational training level (p<.001). 949 respondents (14.4%) provided free-text comments that further described their opinions.
Conclusions: Most respondents have not had training but felt they would benefit from it. There were significant differences between demographic groups. Further innovation is needed to design a universally appropriate curriculum on human trafficking accessible to all healthcare providers as well as mandatory training programs for all institutions.