Human trafficking (HT) is a growing concern within the United States (U.S.) and internationally. With the alarming number of HT victims presenting for medical care, primary care providers (PCPs) are in a unique and privileged position to encounter HT victims within the healthcare system. Adolescents, in particular, are vulnerable to HT because of minimal life experiences, inadequate social support, and limited coping mechanisms (Ertl et al., 2020). Failure to recognize and intervene in cases involving HT victims who are minors is detrimental to the individual’s health, wellbeing, and safety. With the assistance of education and training, community resources, guideline adoption, and policy changes, PCPs can play a substantial role in identifying HT victims and determine the next appropriate steps for intervening on their behalf. A literature review was conducted to identify best practices for identifying youth HT victims between 10-17 years of age presenting for care in order to receive essential resources and treatment. A total of 20 articles met inclusion criteria. Main findings include the need for PCPs to uncover physical exam findings consistent with HT victims presenting for medical care, a lack of confidence in PCPs correctly identifying HT in adolescents and intervening in their care, a lack of educated healthcare professionals regarding signs, symptoms, and risk factors of HT victims, the lack of a standardized HT clinical practice guideline, and the importance of a collaborative effort with local resources and law enforcement. These findings highlight essential implications for practice, research, education, and policy that are further discussed based on the systematic review of literature and body of evidence.


Gwen Verchota

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


School of Nursing


Allied Health and Nursing



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In Copyright