The purpose of the study was to field test and validate a comprehensive screening tool intended to improve the identification of victims of human trafficking, victim services and law enforcement efforts on a nation-wide scale.
Validation data (Human Trafficking Data, n = 180) was collected through 180 structured interviews with victim service provider clients who responded to the screening tool. The screening tool was administered by the victim service providers at regular intakes or subsequent interview sessions. The period of tool administration differed from each agency due to variations in intake procedures, organizational capacity, and date of entry into the study, but partner agencies administered the tools with clients for anywhere from two to eight months beginning in July 2012 and ending in June 2013. Service provide partners were also allowed discretion in timing the administration of the tool according to client receptiveness.
The screening tool generally required 40 to 60 minutes to administer. Study participants were given a gift card for twenty dollars as a token of appreciation for their time and effort. The completed questionnaires were stored in a secure place not accessible to other agency staff and returned as promptly as possible to the researcher's offices for data entry in password protected databases.
Researchers conducted confidential case file reviews during site visits at partner agencies. Neither personal identifying information nor case status information was included in the files provided to the researchers. The information from the administrative files was applied to the screening tool and researchers assessed the likelihood of human trafficking based on the information extracted from these case files. After the case file reviews, the documented outcomes for cases whose files were reviewed were provided to the researchers.
Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with service providers (n = 12 from 11 agencies) and clients (n = 7 from 6 agencies). Key informant interviews (n = 12) with law enforcement officers, prosecutors and probation officers were also conducted. Informed consent and confidentiality procedures were followed and the interviews were audiotaped for transcription.
To validate the human trafficking screening tool (Human Trafficking Data, n = 180), researchers chose a purposive sample selection strategy and instructed interviewers within each of 12 local, regional, and national partner organizations to invite study participants accorder to criterion sampling. Service providers were allowed leeway in recruiting study participants. They were instructed to invite any potential trafficking victims, that is persons who may have been trafficked or subject to similar crimes, whom they judge to be emotionally stable enough to participate. Status as a trafficking victim did not have to be determined in advance of the interview, since a mix of trafficked and non-trafficked clients in the study sample was necessary to establish the validity and predictive ability of the screening tool.
For the case file reviews, service provider partners redacted identifying information and final outcomes from case files and provided researchers cases in the following categories: (1) certified victims of trafficking, (2) identified trafficking victims lacking certification, and (3) victims of related or similar, but non-trafficking crimes.
In-depth interviews were conducted with a subset of survivor clients who had been interviewed using the screening tool. After a client was interviewed using the screening tool, she or he was invited to participate in a follow-up interview with a researcher. If the client agreed to participate in a follow-up interview, the service provided scheduled an appointment for the client to meet with a researcher during a site visit, or if the interview could not be arranged at that time, individuals were interviewed by phone once privacy was assured.
Key informants were identified as knowledgeable experts in human trafficking from various sources, including professional conferences, web sites, or recommendations from other law enforcement personnel or service providers.
All potential victims of human trafficking serviced by twelve service organizations in the United States, those twelve service providers who work with potential victims of human trafficking and law enforcement agencies in 2012 and 2013.
administrative records data
paper and pencil interview (PAPI)
The data file (Human Trafficking Data, n = 180, 125 variables) includes type of victim (trafficking, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, other) and respondent demographics (sex, age, legal status, language, number of children, number of siblings, highest level of education, and country of birth). Other variables ask why the respondent left their previous country, when the respondent came to the United States, the cost associated with the migration and how the respondent pay for the migration. Additional variables ask if the respondent was ever made to sign a document she did not understand, work someplace different than promised, threatened harm or made to feel she could not leave the place she worked or lived. Other variables ask if the respondent was forced to have unwanted contact with a person, have sex for things of value, or have photos posted on the internet. Finally, the respondent was asked if she had access to enough food, able to get enough sleep, if anyone the respondent worked or lived with controlled when the respondent could sleep, if the respondent felt under constant strain, feeling unhappy or depress, or unable to overcome difficulties, and if the respondent wanted the interviewer to get her access to more help.