Systematic review of facilitators of, barriers to, and recommendations for healthcare services for child survivors of human trafficking globally

Child Abuse Negl. 2020 Feb;100:104289. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104289. Epub 2019 Nov 28.


Background: Child trafficking is associated with multiple physical and mental health problems, yet relatively little is known about the factors that facilitate or hamper delivery of high-quality health care services to trafficked children.

Objective: To summarize information about identified facilitators of, barriers to, and recommendations for medical and mental health service provision to trafficked children.

Participants and setting: A systematic review was conducted of the English-language, peer-reviewed literature on medical and mental healthcare of trafficked children published since 2010.

Methods: Inclusion criteria were: (1) the study population or focus included, wholly or in part, individuals under the age of 18 years; (2) the study focus was clearly defined as human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation; (3) a main focus included health services or barriers to care, and (4) the article contained original data.

Results: Of the 29 articles meeting inclusion criteria, 19 included facilitators of health service provision to trafficked populations, 22 included barriers to that provision, and 25 included explicit recommendations for service improvement. 45 distinct facilitators were identified a total of 140 times, 118 distinct barriers were identified a total of 174 times, and 52 distinct recommendations were identified a total of 100 times. The majority of facilitators, barriers, and recommendations fell under the locus of the healthcare provider and healthcare organization.

Conclusions: Existing research reveals abundant areas of opportunity for healthcare professionals and healthcare administrators to improve access to, and quality of, medical and mental health care for trafficked children.

Keywords: Barriers; Child trafficking; Commercial sexual exploitation; Healthcare; Human trafficking; Recommendations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / therapy*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Services*
  • Human Trafficking / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Sex Work / psychology
  • Sex Workers / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Young Adult