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Research

Researchers Identify Ways to Improve Care to Trafficked Children

Review highlights multiple holistic programs used worldwide that serve medical, mental health needs of exploited children

Author Guest Contributor | Publish Date March 9, 2020

Newly published research by a CU School of Medicine faculty member and colleagues identifies multiple ways that health care providers and organizations can improve the quality of care provided to trafficked children.

Karen Albright, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has edited a special issue of Child Abuse & Neglect, a journal published by the International Society on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. 

The special issue focuses on the health needs of and service provision for trafficked and exploited children. In addition to research studies, it features a number of innovative programs around the globe that use a holistic approach to address the medical and mental health needs of this population.  The issue can be accessed at https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/child-abuse-and-neglect/vol/100/suppl/C.

Albright is also lead author of an article featured in the issue, a systematic review of the barriers to, facilitators of, and recommendations for improving health services to trafficked and exploited children.

The review identifies 45 facilitators and 118 barriers to high-quality health care to this population, the vast majority of which fall under the locus of control of the healthcare provider and healthcare organizations. Prominent among the barriers are lack of health professional training on human trafficking and trauma-informed care, lack of health facility protocols and guidelines on human trafficking, and lack of multidisciplinary collaboration between health providers and community service providers. 

The review also identifies 52 recommendations for medical and mental health service provision to trafficked children. These recommendations provide a road map of actionable steps that can be taken at multiple levels, from individual providers to large-scale social and structural changes, to improve care.

Albright’s co-authors include Jordan Greenbaum, MD, from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the Institute on Healthcare and Human Trafficking, Sherry A. Edwards from Emory University School of Law, and Carmelle Tsai, MD, from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Albright and Greenbaum have also developed an assessment tool for healthcare professionals and administrators to assist with the process of identifying gaps in care. The tool is currently being piloted in two countries through the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (www.icmec.org).

Guest contributor: Mark Couch, CU School of Medicine.