The Healthcare Response to Human Trafficking
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About This Course

If you work in the health care field, as a nurse, physician, social worker, public health worker, counselor, psychologist, or other professional, chances are good that you have encountered a victim of sex and/or labor trafficking. Trafficked persons are at high risk for a number of physical and mental health problems, including injury, infection, unwanted pregnancy and complications, malnutrition, substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. And many who are being exploited actually do seek health care at some point, making the health professional a key contact for potential help and services. However, most trafficked persons do not spontaneously disclose their exploitative situation to health care staff, due to fear, shame, language barriers, and other reasons. Therefore, the onus of identification lies with the health care professional. And such identification can only occur when the professional has a baseline knowledge of human trafficking, including its dynamics and presentation. If we do not know about human trafficking, we will not recognize it among our patients/clients, and opportunities for intervention will be lost.

This course is designed for busy health care professionals and provides a practical approach to recognizing and appropriately responding to suspected trafficking and exploitation. It begins with a general overview of labor and sex trafficking and exploitation and is followed by a description of the trauma-informed, rights-based approach to patient/client care. Course information is supplemented with interactive exercises, group discussions and case examples. Then we focus attention on typically under-recognized and under-served populations, including boys/men and persons identifying as lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer/questioning/other (LGBTQ+). Finally, we discuss strategies to ensure safety and privacy for patients/clients during health visits and when documenting in health records.

At the end of the course, participants will:

  1. 1. Recall the definition of human trafficking and be familiar with its dynamics
  2. 2. Describe risk factors and possible indicators of labor and sex trafficking and exploitation
  3. 3. Recall aspects of a trauma-informed, rights-based approach to patient/client care that maximize patient/client safety and confidentiality.
  4. 4. Be familiar with the unique needs of trafficked/exploited males, and LGBTQ+ persons.


Participants should have experience in a health care field, or be training to be a health professional. This includes medical and mental health work in hospitals, clinics, offices, health centers and in the home.

Estimated Effort:  5 hours for total course, self-paced


Jordan Greenbaum, MD
ICMEC Medical Director