Nurses' Knowledge, Perceptions, and Attitudes Towards Human Trafficking: Effects of a Health Education Intervention on Registered Nurses Within an Emergency Department Setting

Sharon Lynn Dennis, Gardner-Webb University


The purpose of this study is to assess the effects of a health education intervention on registered nurses' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of human trafficking within an emergency department setting. The intent of this study is to heighten awareness, encourage education among the registered nurses within the emergency department regarding human trafficking, and to enhance nursing's ability to identify victims of human trafficking. The study will use a prospective design, where participants' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions towards human trafficking will be assessed at baseline. A health education intervention will be implemented followed by a post-intervention assessment. A convenience sample of 42 emergency department nurses will be selected in a randomized fashion. The sample will be obtained from a 921-bed tertiary care hospital, with 91 full time registered nurses employed within the emergency department, located in the Southeast Region of the United States that is characterized as a not-for-profit, integrated health care system that serves patients and communities reaching from Virginia to Georgia.

The following null hypotheses were presented: 1) There is no significant statistical difference between the pre-test and the post-test after the emergency department nurses receive the educational material on the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of human trafficking; and 2) There is no significant statistical difference between the expert nurse pre/post-test scores and the novice nurse pre/post-test scores.

A two-proportions test was used to analyze questions one (1) through nine (9). The two-proportions test revealed a p value of 0.068. The p value was greater than .05, we failed to reach significance; therefore, the null hypothesis was accepted.

The second hypothesis was stated as nurses who have more years of experience within the emergency department (considered expert) will score higher on the pre/post-test than nurses who are less experienced within the emergency department (considered novice). The Chi Square Goodness of Fit Test revealed a p value of 0.00, which indicated a statistical difference in the data according to experience level of the nurse within the emergency department setting. A Chi Square Goodness of Fit Test was analyzed to determine if a statistical difference existed between nurses who were prepared at the Associate's Degree level, Bachelorette Degree level, Master's Degree level, and the Post-Doctorate level. The test revealed a p value of 0.00, which indicated there was a statistical difference in the data according to the nurse's educational level. The research supported Patricia Benner's From Novice to Expert theory that was used as the theoretical framework for this study.

Finally, according to the Chi Square Goodness of Fit Test, the nurse's perception of his or her ability to identify the signs and symptoms of a human trafficking victim improved from the pre-test to the post-test as well as their view that a victim of human trafficking would be identified within the emergency department setting where they currently work. The self-learning packet was effective at heightening the awareness of the importance of the nurse's role in identifying and helping this vulnerable patient population.