May 6, 2024

Study: Nurses ideally positioned but not sufficiently educated to combat human trafficking

Editor's Note

Education about human trafficking is lacking in pre-licensure undergraduate nursing curricula, according to an October 2023 study in Nurse Education Today.

Most victims see a healthcare provider at some point during their trafficking, yet remain unidentified, researchers write. The more than 4 million nurses in the US are ideally suited to identify and treat these individuals, but study results show they must be properly educated first.

Using the National Student Nurses’ Association and recruiting recently graduated RNs via email, the cross-sectional quantitative study showed approximately all participants reported minimal to no human trafficking content taught in undergraduate nursing curricula. Additionally, less than 5 % of participants reported having full confidence in recognizing signs of human trafficking or in intervening if a victim is recognized.  

“Human trafficking content is taught at a minimal to zero amount in pre-licensure RN nursing curricula,” researchers conclude. “Only eight states mandate continuing education on human trafficking for healthcare professionals. Once licensed, nurses who live in non-mandated states continue to be irregularly/inadequately educated on this topic. The data suggest that human trafficking content is not present in most pre-licensure RN nursing curricula. The implications of this study strongly suggest that human trafficking content be taught across all undergraduate RN programs with continuing education mandated in all U.S. states and U.S. territories.”

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