HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS’ PERCEPTIONS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS: ASSESSING IDENTIFICATION, BIASES, AND PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR
Human trafficking victims often present to healthcare settings for treatment. Thus, healthcare professionals are in a unique position to be able to identify and assist victims. However, most healthcare professionals receive little to no formal training or education about human trafficking, and their perceptions of human trafficking are often formed through biased media depictions. The research suggests that demographic characteristics of trafficking victims may determine how likely individuals are to help victims. As a result, healthcare providers may fail to identify an individual as being trafficked; thus, many victims who receive healthcare services go unrecognized as victims of trafficking. Part one of this study focused on expanding on a previously developed vignette measure designed to see if stakeholders are able to accurately identify victims or if they hold biases based on demographic variables (i.e., sex, immigration status, race/ethnicity, and primary language) and forms of trafficking (i.e., sex or labor trafficking). Using a vignette study design, part two of this study sought to examine any potential stakeholder biases that are based on the demographic characteristics of victims (i.e., sex, immigration status, race/ethnicity, and primary language) or form of trafficking (i.e., sex or labor) that hinder the identification of victims or play a role in helping or aiding trafficking victims. The results show that healthcare professionals were less likely to accurately identify and engage in prosocial behaviors towards domestic, White, and labor trafficking victims. Implications and future directions are discussed.