Understanding Health Care Utilization and Occupational Exposures of Labor-Trafficked People

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2023;34(3):845-862.


Objectives: To describe health care utilization and occupational exposures during trafficking among foreign-born people labor-trafficked in the U.S.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of immigration files for health data among 114 labor-trafficked individuals.

Results: Mean age was 30. Files of 38% mentioned accessing medical services at least once, mostly via hospitals (73%-81%). Forty-three percent (43%) had U.S. citizen children-indicating their children and spouses interacted with social and medical systems during exploitation. Almost all (97%) had limited English proficiency, and 75% did not have legal immigration status. Employers/traffickers interfered with access to health care and forced victims to work while injured. Half (50%) had sick family members. Victims reported physical and sexual abuse, toxic and environmental occupational exposures, and sleep disturbances.

Conclusions: This is the largest study to elucidate health concerns and care utilization patterns among labor-trafficked people. Concerted resources must be dedicated to understanding health needs and health systems intervention opportunities for labor-trafficked people.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Parturition
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies