Trafficked persons seek health care during exploitation, but few health professionals know how to respond appropriately, and few institutions have protocols to guide this response. Currently, no empirically tested framework exists to guide protocol development for human trafficking response protocols in health care settings. Our aim was to empirically evaluate the HEAL Trafficking Protocol Toolkit's usability and effectiveness through cross-sectional survey methodology. We invited users who downloaded the free Toolkit from January 2017 through January 2018 to participate in an electronic survey and conducted descriptive quantitative and qualitative thematic analyses. Survey respondents were professionally and geographically diverse. Eighty-four percent who used the Toolkit for educational purposes, and 91% whose objective was to develop, implement, or improve a health care response protocol, found it to be helpful or very helpful. We identified 22 discrete qualitative response themes. The HEAL Trafficking Protocol Toolkit for Developing a Response to Human Trafficking Victims in Health Care Settings is the first peer-reviewed, empirically tested framework to guide protocol development to respond to trafficked persons in diverse health care settings, and is perceived as a helpful, informative, practical tool for creating and improving patient-centered, trauma informed protocols and advancing sustainability for institutional, human, and fiscal resources.


© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


Taylor & Francis

Date of publication

Spring 3-7-2023



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Nursing Commons



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