Session: (WITHDRAWN) Ethical Issues in the Study of Labor Exploitation and Health in Low Resource Countries (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

146 (WITHDRAWN) Ethical Issues in the Study of Labor Exploitation and Health in Low Resource Countries

Friday, January 17, 2020: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Liberty Ballroom N, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children (VAWC)
David Okech, PhD, University of Georgia, Jody Clay-Warner, PhD, University of Georgia, Nathan Hansen, PhD, University of Georgia, Tamora Callands, PhD, University of Georgia and Trasie Topple, LCSW, PhD, University of Georgia
The International Labor Organization estimates that almost 25 million people worldwide were victims of labor trafficking in 2016. Victims of labor trafficking suffer a wide range of negative outcomes associated with the trafficking experience, including poor physical health. While research has begun to document the impact of trafficking on short-term health outcomes, little research considers how labor trafficking impacts health long-term. It is necessary to understand the long-term implications of human trafficking for physical health in order to understand the way in which trafficking continues to impact victims even after the trafficking has ended. In order to document health status, however, it is often necessary to gather biomarker data, as these data provide the most accurate information about health conditions. There are potential ethical issues, however, associated with gathering biomarker data in vulnerable populations, particularly in parts of the world where access to healthcare may be limited. This is especially true for trafficking victims, for whom collection of biological specimens may reintroduce trauma and risks further exploitation. Yet, it is important understand the long-term health needs of person who have been trafficked in order to provide them with appropriate health services throughout the period of reintegration. In this workshop, we will discuss our experiences conducting research on labor trafficking among a group of trafficking survivors in Ghana. The 144 study participants were all young women who experienced labor trafficking in Accra and received services in a local shelter designed to help women escape trafficking. One hundred and sixteen of these women participated in three waves of data collection, and a subset participated in a physical health screening at the third wave, which included collection of blood for biomarker assay. Participants were subsequently tested for markers of inflammation, along with several diseases including HIV and chlamydia. Here, we discuss the processes we used to address ethical concerns associated with collection of sensitive health data. We aimed to conduct the entire research project in ways that empowered survivors, and we describe how we worked to maintain this goal in the collection of health data. We also discuss challenges that we experienced, in an effort to assist other researchers navigate collection of sensitive health data among highly vulnerable populations in ways that appropriately address participant health needs and privacy. In doing so, we hope that this workshop will contribute toward the development of a set of best practices for the collection of health data in ways that empower survivors of exploitation.
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