Compassionate Care-Going the Extra Mile: Sex Trafficking Survivors' Recommendations for Healthcare Best Practices

Sexes. 2021 Mar;2(1):26-49. doi: 10.3390/sexes2010003. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


Human Trafficking (HT) persists in the US, despite multi-level measures designed to mitigate its societal costs. HT instruction for healthcare providers is growing, but there is a dearth of resources and training presenting obstacles for victims accessing suitable healthcare services. Voices of survivors are also scant in the literature, despite the fact that their recommendations would appear essential when designing best practices. This study aimed to methodically gather recommendations from sex trafficking (ST) survivors who sought medical care during their victimization. An exploratory concurrent mixed-methods design was used, and semi-structured interviews (N = 22) were conducted between March 2016 and March 2017, in San Diego, CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Data were analyzed through a coding system to identify meaningful analytical themes. Study participants were recruited through survivor-centered organizations, and their identification was kept anonymous and confidential. Findings included three main themes: (A) Red Flags; (B) supportive healthcare practices; and (C) resources for ST-patient study participants' recommendations aimed to improve healthcare practice in response to their medical needs in a compassionate and caring manner, with trust building, rapport, and an opportunity to instill hope among ST-patients. Implementing Compassionate Care approaches when caring for ST-patients could positively impact patient-provider interactions, while creating opportunities for intervention.

Keywords: empathy; human trafficking; identification recommendations; medicine; resources.