Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


A rise in attention to and assistance for human trafficking (HT) victims and survivors has resulted in a call to action for occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals. Victims and survivors often seek healthcare services in a variety of settings, yet ill-equipped healthcare professionals lacking training and self-efficacy with this population have left many unidentified needs unaddressed. Occupational therapists possess the skills necessary to support and assist survivors of HT in their reintegration and healing processes. However, little to no specific training for practitioners in this field has been developed. This study explored how an educational panel of OTs and HT experts who have worked with occupational therapists impacted occupational therapists’ knowledge and perceived self-efficacy regarding HT and its intersection with occupational therapy. A 1.5-hour interactive panel was assembled and prepared for a synchronous Zoom meeting by the researchers. Eighty students completed both pre- and post-surveys. Post-panel surveys revealed that students’ knowledge of the intersection between HT and occupational therapy improved, their perceived self-efficacy in assisting victims and survivors of HT increased, and their perspective on the panel format and content was favorable. The survey findings also indicated students’ desire for continued professional education and occupational therapy practice skills focused on the topic of HT. One way to address the gaps in the knowledge and self-efficacy of healthcare providers is to equip them with knowledge and skills on treating HT victims through training during their didactic curriculum and in clinical practice.


  1. Sarbinaz Bekmuratova, Ph.D., MS, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Creighton University. She teaches research methodology, health policy, and public health courses. Her research interests include human trafficking, violence against women, minority and vulnerable populations, health services, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  2. Andrea Thinnes, OTD, OTR/L, is an Associate Professor at Creighton University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Her scholarly activity focuses on expanding the critical role of occupational therapy with survivors of sex trafficking, the development of empathy in occupational therapy students, and interprofessional education for health professions students.
  3. Yongyue Qi, Ph.D., MS, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Creighton University. He teaches research related courses for both entry-level and post-professional OTD programs. His research focuses on evidence-based practice and diabetes self-management.
  4. Arduizur Carli Richie-Zavaleta, DrPH, MASP, MAIPS, is a research fellow at the Center for Justice and Reconciliation and an adjunct faculty for the Department of Sociology at Point Loma Nazarene University. Richie-Zavaleta’s research interest focuses on vulnerable and marginalized populations such as survivors of sex trafficking, immigrants, disenfranchised youth, prevention of gender-based violence, and women’s health.
  5. Ashlynn Castellón, OTS, is a second-year doctoral occupational therapy student in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton University. Ashlynn served as a graduate research assistant for this research project. She is passionate about the anti-trafficking movement and developing the role of occupational therapy in this practice area.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declaration of interest.

Creative Commons License

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