Methods. The research team collected repeated measures data from adolescent sex trafficking survivors (n = 94) in four North Texas counties at baseline and six months. Data included participant demographics, social work contacts and services, goal plans, and outcome surveys. The surveys included a modified version of the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA) to measure readiness to change the behaviors that can lead to sex trafficking victimization and re-victimization, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale (Cop-SE). Wilcoxon signed rank tests, chi-square analyses, and linear and multinomial logistic regressions were then used to determine if doses of social work advocacy can predict positive outcomes and eventual sex trafficking exit within a sample of adolescent sex trafficking survivors.
Results. Study participants experienced upward trends in perceived social support and coping self-efficacy scores between baseline and six months. Although these trends were not statistically significant in the Wilcoxon signed rank tests, linear and logistic regressions using baseline data demonstrated that several variables predicted client social support, coping self-efficacy, and intentions to change the behaviors that can lead to sex trafficking victimization and re-victimization. For instance, one statistically significant linear regression model (R2 =0.15, F[5, 84] = 2.86, p = 0.02) demonstrated that for every year of participant age, their social support scores decreased by 0.41 points (B = -0.41, p = 0.002). Another statistically significant linear regression model (R2 =0.13, F [3, 86] = 4.08, p = 0.009) found that clients with a positive sex trafficking identification (as opposed to “presumed trafficking” based on a CSE-IT score) had lower coping self-efficacy scores by an average of 0.21 points (B = -0.21, p = 0.05). Finally, a statistically significant logistic regression model (Nagelkerke = 0.29, x2  = 13.70, p = 0.03) found that clients’ social support and coping self-efficacy scores were predictive of an increased likelihood that clients would contemplate behavioral changes.
Conclusions and Implications. Results of this study suggest that improvements in coping self-efficacy and perceived social support lead to adolescent sex trafficking survivors’ progression through the stages of change, further suggesting that these improvements can also lead to survivors’ eventual sex trafficking exit. Practitioners should intentionally target services to adhere closely to the IEP model in order to see improvements in each of these domains, as these improvements are likely to lead to longer-term behavioral change.