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The Healthcare Response to Human Trafficking

Many persons subjected to human trafficking experience significant physical and mental health adversity which may lead them to seek health care. This course is designed for health professionals who may encounter trafficked and exploited persons, including nurses, physicians, social workers, counselors, psychologists and others working in medical or mental health care. It provides practical information on how to identify, interact with and appropriately respond to adults and children who are experiencing labor or sexual exploitation/trafficking, and those who are at risk. The course uses a pragmatic approach, focusing on helping participants build skills in providing trauma-informed, rights-based care. These skills are useful when caring for any person who has experienced significant trauma, such as other types of sexual violence, physical assault, major injury or loss.

  • Course Number

  • Self-Paced

  • Estimated Effort

    <5 hours for total course, self-paced/week

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. Recall the definition of human trafficking and be familiar with its dynamics

2. Describe risk factors and possible indicators of labor and sex trafficking and exploitation

3. Recall aspects of a trauma-informed, rights-based approach to patient/client care that maximize patient/client safety and confidentiality.

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.

Course Staff

Karen Albright, PhD

Karen Albright

Dr. Karen Albright is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Associate Director for Research at the Denver-Seattle Center of Innovation, Department of Veterans Affairs. A health services researcher and sociologist by training, she is a qualitative methodologist and implementation scientist. She received a PhD in Sociology from New York University and received postdoctoral training in health policy as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley, and in social determinants of health as a National Institute of Mental Health Fellow at the Center for Culture and Health in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Albright’s research focuses on health disparities and the social determinants of mental and physical health among a variety of socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. She is particularly interested in understanding factors influencing the health behaviors and outcomes of these populations, identifying barriers to the care they receive, and testing potential solutions for improving care. Much of her recent work has been focused on improving health care organizations’ ability to identify and treat survivors of human (i.e., sex and/or labor) trafficking. Together she and Dr. Greenbaum have created and disseminated a comprehensive toolkit about human trafficking designed to assist healthcare professionals and administrators in identifying gaps in care at their organizations. They have also conducted and published a rigorous systematic review of the literature on human trafficking and health care, reviewing more than 1,500 published studies to identify facilitators of, barriers to, and recommendations for the provision of health care services to trafficked populations; conducted numerous interviews with and convened an international roundtable of experts on human trafficking in order to identify best practices to treating this population and systemic issues that could be improved upon; and served as guest editors of the academic journal Child Abuse & Neglect for a special issue on the health needs of trafficking survivors.

Jordan Greenbaum, MD

Jordan Greenbaum

Jordan Greenbaum, MD is a child abuse physician in Atlanta, GA in the U.S. She received her degree from Yale School of Medicine and has worked in the field of child maltreatment for over 20 years. She is the medical director of the the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the medical director of the Institute on Healthcare and Human Trafficking at the Stephanie Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She co-chairs the Human Trafficking committee for the Ray Helfer Society, and the Education/Training committee for HEAL Trafficking, an organization of medical professionals working on human trafficking issues. Dr. Greenbaum has served on national committees and workgroups regarding human trafficking and has testified for Congressional committees. She co-authored a clinical report and a policy statement regarding child trafficking for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Greenbaum provides trainings on human trafficking and exploitation and other aspects of child maltreatment for medical and nonmedical professionals. She trains locally, nationally and internationally, working with child-serving professionals to prevent, identify and intervene in cases of suspected abuse and sex trafficking. Her research focuses on developing and validating a screening tool to identify suspected child sex trafficking in the healthcare setting and on global healthcare for survivors of child trafficking.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is this course applicable to participants working outside the U.S.?

Yes, the course is designed using a global approach, assuming a variety of health care settings, available resources and myriadd cultures.

Who should take this course?

This course is designed for professionals and trainees working in a medical or mental health setting, in any country. This may include (but is not limited to) nurses, physicians, psychologists, counselors, social workers, physician assistants and medical assistants.

Does this course offer continuing education credits?

No formal professional continuing education credits are offered since the course is open to participants from any country and a variety of professions. However, successful completion of the course will enable you to obtain a certificate of completion.