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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 501

Human Trafficking: An Evaluation of Canadian Medical Students' Awareness and Attitudes

1 Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2 Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
J C Wong
200 Elizabeth Street, EN-7-229, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 21710419

Context: Human trafficking is a human rights violation prevalent globally. Current guidelines highlight healthcare professionals' key role in responding to human trafficking, emphasizing the importance of medical education in raising awareness of trafficking. Objective: To assess pre-clerkship medical students' awareness of human trafficking and attitudes towards learning about trafficking in the medical curriculum at Canada's largest medical school. Methods: An anonymous, classroom-based questionnaire was designed, piloted and administered to first- and second-year medical students at one large Canadian medical school with a diverse student population. The questionnaire sought demographic data and information on students' self-perceived awareness of human trafficking and interest in learning about trafficking and other community health issues. Results: 262 medical students completed the questionnaire (70.0% response). Most participants reported that they were not knowledgeable (48.5%) or only somewhat knowledgeable (45.4%) about human trafficking. 88.9% of participants were not familiar with signs and symptoms of trafficked persons. While students' responses indicated that they prioritized other social issues, a majority of participants (76.0%) thought that trafficking was important to learn about in medical school, especially identifying trafficked persons and their health needs. Conclusions: These medical students of one Canadian medical school demonstrated limited familiarity with the issue of human trafficking but largely felt that they should be taught more about this issue during their medical education. This assessment of early medical students' awareness of human trafficking is relevant to medical educators and the organizations that could develop the required educational curricula and resources.

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