NEWS | July 20, 2018

Education, processes for identifying and caring for human trafficking victims being developed


A new human trafficking workgroup established at UC Davis Medical Center is working to educate faculty, trainees and staff and develop clinical protocols to identify and refer the victims of human trafficking for care. 

The workgroup is led by Bryn Mumma and Julia Magaña, both assistant professors of emergency medicine, and Rachel Robitz, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences -- all advocates for homeless youth and adults who have been trafficked.

Their workgroup brings together hospital leadership, social workers, physicians, nurses, medical students and community partners.

Mumma expects training to begin with emergency department nurses in the fall. A longer term goal is to expand education throughout the health system, especially in Labor and Delivery, another location where many victims enter the hospital. 

"Both labor and sex trafficking have significant mental health consequences, including a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression," Robitz said. "Roughly 40 percent of sex-trafficked women had a history of a suicide attempt. These individuals need services that are trauma-informed, survivor-informed, culturally responsive and multidisciplinary for recovery."

Earlier this month, Robitz  participated in a Congressional Panel Discussion on Human Trafficking and Mental Health in Washington, D.C. She is principal investigator on a study examining how to support the wellbeing of human trafficking survivors involved in anti-trafficking work.