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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Nursing




School of Nursing and Health Sciences



Human trafficking (HT) is often referred to as modern-day slavery, where force, fraud, or coercion is used to lure an individual into a life of labor or sexual exploitation. Although trafficked persons commonly interface with the healthcare setting, they are often unidentified and returned to the trafficked population. Previous studies have shown that while in captivity, trafficked persons have accessed medical care on various occasions, seeking treatments ranging from minor ailments to more severe ones at emergency departments, primary care clinics, and specialized clinics for sexual and reproductive health (Chisolm-Straker et al., 2016; Lederer &Wetzel, 2014). The inability to identify HT victims by healthcare providers can lead to a missed opportunity to empower a victim.


This study evaluates the knowledge, confidence, and barriers regarding HT identification among nurses with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The researcher investigated the relationship between perceived knowledge (PK), actual knowledge (AK), and confidence to respond (CR) to HT in the DNP population. The research aims to develop practice recommendations regarding the identification of trafficked persons.


A non-experimental, cross-sectional study design evaluated the psychometric properties of a version of the Provider Responses, Treatment, and Care for Trafficked People (PROTECT) survey (Ross et al., 2015) among nurses with a DNP degree. The PROTECT instrument has been tested with other healthcare provider populations but has yet to be tested in this population.


This study found a seven-factor solution explaining 62.19% of the total variance. In addition, exploratory factor analyses performed on the survey’s subscale were found to be a reliable and valid representation of the underlying structure of the variable. SANE/SAFE–certified nurses had a mean of 3.19 (SD = 1.2) for PK and 3.4 (SD = 1.172) for Confidence in Responding (CR). Pearson’s correlation showed significant relationships between SANE/SAFE certification and PK (r = .265, p < .05) and AK (r = –.382, p < .05). Respondents reported a mean of 11.6 hours of HT. The data showed a positive correlation between total hours of HT training and PK and CR to HT. Nurse practitioners had the highest percentage of correctly answered items on the AK subscale (14%), followed by nurse educators (14.8%). The study’s high Cronbach’s alpha (α = .955) and reliability coefficient (α = .772) for the PK and CR subscales indicated their reliability in assessing healthcare providers’ PK and CR to human-trafficking cases. The survey instrument used in this study was psychometrically valid. The results highlighted the need for targeted training and education for healthcare providers to improve their ability to identify and respond to human-trafficking cases.

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Nursing Commons