Abstract: Understanding Human Trafficking Prevention: Analyses of Survivor Qualitative Data (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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434P Understanding Human Trafficking Prevention: Analyses of Survivor Qualitative Data

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Jessica Donohue-Dioh, PhD, Adjunct Faculty & Research Scientist, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Jacquelyn Meshelemiah, PhD
J. Jay Miller, Asst. Prof, University of Kentucky, KY
Background and Purpose

The 4 “Ps” Paradigm is the framework used in the United States to combat human trafficking. Prevention is one of the P’s while others include protection, prosecution, and partnerships. The focus of this study is to examine ways to prevent sex and labor trafficking domestically and globally. This study uniquely seeks to understand prevention from the perspectives of survivors of sex and/or labor trafficking. Qualitative data evaluation techniques are applied to bring forward structure and understanding, which in turn can be used for blueprints and guidance for prevention efforts.


This study reviewed and coded two qualitative data sets on prevention statements related to human trafficking (N=108) and sex trafficking (N=96). All qualitative data were originally collected from survivors of either sex trafficking, labor trafficking or both through brainstorming sessions in person or online. An initial content analysis was conducted to remove duplicative and incomplete statements. Two researchers coded both data sets separately, reconvened and discussed process and level of coding through several iterations. Multiple levels of focus of coding was achieved for all 204 qualitative statements. The coding was then looked at according to major themes and sub-themes. In addition to organizing the data into themes, researchers also maintained a separation of the original data sets. Through splitting and regrouping, researchers identified relationships between type of prevention data, major themes and sub-themes.


The final comparison resulted in 15 major themes and 96 sub-themes between the human trafficking and the sex trafficking data sets. Of the 15 major themes, only one, Protective Factors, consisted entirely of subthemes which were common to both data sets. Only one major theme, Research, exclusively contained sub-themes drawn from the sex trafficking prevention data set. Two major themes, Youth and Immigrants, were made up of subthemes which only drew from the human trafficking prevention data set. Five major themes Research, Oversight, Youth, Immigrants, and Empowerment contained no sub-themes which were common to both original data sets. The top three major themes include Resources Development (n=31), Improve Services (n=28), and Protective Factors (n=22).

Conclusions and Implications: The results indicate several key areas where we can invest in to make gains towards preventing human trafficking. Specifically, Protective Factors, as a theme is one of the top three major themes that was represented in both data sets. As a result, human trafficking prevention—to start—should focus on protective factors that include developing life skills, fostering healthy relationships, and teaching human dignity and worth, from a young age.

These research findings are critical to the formulation of timely and relevant prevention strategies for the anti-human trafficking movement. As recently as 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services has publicly acknowledged the need to focus on the nearly forgotten “P” of Prevention. Today’s agencies, service providers, and organizations have implemented prevention programming often times leaning on other social issues as models. The anti-human trafficking movement through prevention data, as presented here, can develop models which underscore the unique issues faced by this population.