A Survivor-Derived Approach to Addressing Trafficking in the Pediatric ED

Abstract [from journal]

Objectives: Our objective was to elicit the perspectives of survivors of child trafficking on addressing trafficking in the pediatric emergency department (ED) and, secondarily, to provide a survivor-derived framework to help pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) providers discuss trafficking with their patients.

Methods: We conducted in-depth, semistructured interviews with young adults who experienced trafficking as children and/or as adolescents. In the interviews, we employed a novel video-elicitation method designed by the research team to elicit detailed participant feedback and recommendations on the pediatric ED through an interactive, immersive discussion with the interviewer. A grounded theory approach was employed.

Results: Seventeen interviews were conducted revealing the following themes, which we present in an integrated framework for PEM providers: (1) fear is a significant barrier; (2) participants do want PEM providers to ask about trafficking, and it is not harmful to do so; (3) PEM providers should address fear through emphasizing confidentiality and privacy and encouraging agency; (4) PEM providers should approach the patient in a direct, sensitive, and nonjudgmental manner; and (5) changes to the ED environment may facilitate the conversation. Suggested wordings and tips from survivors were compiled.

Conclusions: Trafficking survivors feel that the pediatric ED can be a place where they can be asked about trafficking, and that when done in private, it is not harmful or retraumatizing. Fear is a major barrier to disclosure in the pediatric ED setting, and PEM providers can mitigate this by emphasizing privacy and confidentiality and increasing agency by providing choices. PEM providers should be direct, sensitive, and nonjudgmental in their approach to discussing trafficking.