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The Role of the Nurse in Combating Human Trafficking

Sabella, Donna PhD, RN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000394289.55577.b6
Feature Articles

Overview: Human trafficking, also called modern slavery, happens worldwide—and the United States is no exception. Within our borders, thousands of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, many of them children, are forced or coerced into sex work or various forms of labor every year. Nurses and other health care providers who encounter victims of trafficking often don't realize it, and opportunities to intervene are lost. Although no one sign can demonstrate with certainty when someone is being trafficked, there are several indicators that clinicians should know. This article provides an overview of human trafficking, describes how to recognize signs that a person is being trafficked and how to safely intervene, and offers an extensive resource list.

Keywords: debt bondage, human trafficking, labor trafficking, modern slavery, sex trafficking, trafficking in persons

In Brief

Trafficked victims access health services, yet most providers don't recognize the signs that someone is being trafficked. Learn how to safely intervene.

Author Information

Donna Sabella is an assistant clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is the founder and director of Project Phoenix, an organization serving prostituted and trafficked women in the Philadelphia area, as well as director of education for the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Contact author: or The author of this article has no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.