Accurate Identification and Prosocial Behaviors Towards Human Trafficking Victims Among Psychology Students

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As human trafficking victims often experience psychological and medical concerns, healthcare systems have been identified as a potential point of identification and intervention for this population. Unfortunately, there remain low rates of victim identification within healthcare, with one explanation being biases healthcare providers may hold about victims. Often, biases are ingrained and longstanding, leading to an under-identification of victims. Early programing focused on dispelling inaccurate stereotypes about victims are needed to best service trafficked populations. As psychology students often enter healthcare fields, educational programing among undergraduate-level psychology students can lessen biases prior to students entering the workforce. The current study used a vignette design to ascertain whether psychology students (n = 149; 85.9% female; 50.3% White/European American) held biases against trafficked persons and whether they were willing to help trafficked persons. Results demonstrated significant differences in identification based on the gender and form of trafficking, such that participants were more likely to identify female and sex-trafficked victims. Additionally, participants were more willing to help female and foreign victims. Programs that help dispel myths about human trafficking victims among healthcare professionals can promote inclusivity, healthcare equity and justice for human trafficked victims.

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