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Sex Trafficking

A Concept Analysis for Health Care Providers

Reap, Valerie J. MSN, FNP-C, ENP-C

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: April/June 2019 - Volume 41 - Issue 2 - p 183–188
doi: 10.1097/TME.0000000000000236

As the ever-increasing demands of health care evolve in their complexities, so too shall the role of health care providers. In 2016, the International Labour Organization announced that there were approximately 40.3 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with 4.8 million enslaved in sexual exploitation and 15.4 million in forced marriages (International Labour Organization, 2016). Human trafficking has rapidly proliferated in recent years and is now considered the second most lucrative criminal activity in the world, with sex trafficking accounting for approximately 80 percent of this industry (UNODC, 2009). Recent data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (2017) estimates that one out of every seven runaways reported in 2017 was likely a victim of child sex trafficking, with the average age of victimization being fifteen years of age. According to A. Egyud, K. Stephens, B. Swanson-Bierman, M. DiCuccio, and K. Whiteman (2017), an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 youths are at risk for sex trafficking annually within the United States alone. Sadly, Egyud et al. (2017) found that approximately 87 percent of sex trafficking victims had sought care during their captivity, predominantly in emergency departments. This data has been corroborated by several other researchers, prompting proposals for the introduction of human trafficking education among emergency medicine providers. The concept and operational definition of sex trafficking however remains ambiguous and unclear, with some apparent variation among professions. This article is intended to provide clarification on the concept distinctly specific to victims of sex trafficking.

SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.

Corresponding Author: Valerie J. Reap, MSN, FNP-C, ENP-C, SUNY Upstate Emergency Department, 750 East Adams St, Syracuse, NY 13210 (

Disclosure: The author reports no conflicts of interest.

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