Trafficking and Health: A Systematic Review of Research Methods
Author(s): Cannon AC, Arcara J, Graham LM, Macy RJ
Trafficking in persons (TIP) is a human rights violation with serious public health consequences. Unfortunately, assessing TIP and its health sequelae rigorously and reliably is challenging due to TIP's clandestine nature, variation in definitions of TIP, and the need to use research methods that ensure studies are ethical and feasible.
To help guide practice, policy, and research to assess TIP and health, we undertook a systematic literature review of 70 peer-reviewed, published articles to (a) identify TIP and health research methods being used, (b) determine what we can learn about TIP and health from these varied methodologies, and (c) determine the gaps that exist in health-focused TIP research.
Results revealed that there are various quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods being used to investigate TIP and health. Furthermore, findings show that the limitations of current methodologies affect what is known about TIP and health. In particular, varying definitions, participant recruitment strategies, ethical standards, and outcome measures all affect what is known about TIP and health. Moreover, findings demonstrate an urgent need for representative and nonpurposive recruitment strategies in future investigations of TIP and health as well as research on risk and protective factors related to TIP and health, intervention effectiveness, long-term health outcomes, and research on trafficked people beyond women trafficked for sex. We offer recommendations for research, policy, and practice based on review results.
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