Raising awareness of human trafficking in key professional fields via a multidisciplinary educational approach

Adam Awerbuch, Naiomi Gunaratne, Juhi Jain, Panagiota Caralis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Human trafficking (HT) for sex and labor services is among the fastest growing criminal enterprises, causing significant physical and psychological morbidity to victims. Although many survivors encounter medical, legal and social work professionals during their captivity, lack of awareness of HT in these fields results in under-recognition of victims. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary educational conference on raising awareness of HT in these fields. Design/methodology/approach: A single-day educational conference on HT was hosted in Miami, Florida. Participants were recruited from medical, law enforcement, social work and political fields. The research team issued a ten-item HT survey at the start and end of the conference. Results were analyzed for improvement in survey score using an exact Wilcoxon sign rank test. The results were analyzed both as a single cohort and stratified by profession. Findings: For all participants, there was a significant improvement in post-survey score (0.355, p < 0.05). When stratified by profession, significant improvement was noted in the legal subgroup (0.561, p < 0.05). No significant changes were noted for the other individual professional cohorts, although all subgroups trended toward improvement. Research limitations/implications: A multi-disciplinary educational conference may be effective in raising awareness of HT. Further research is needed to determine the effect of increased awareness on actual outcomes for trafficking survivors. Originality/value: This study represents unique, original research which provides valuable data as to the effectiveness of educational conferences on raising awareness of HT for professionals with the best opportunity to make meaningful interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 30 2020


  • Crime
  • Health care
  • Human rights
  • Human trafficking
  • Mental health
  • Public services
  • Social care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Health Policy


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