SOAR to Health and Wellness Training

Stop Observe Ask Repond to Human Trafficking

Enhancing the Health Care System’s Response to Human Trafficking

It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.  It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.  I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – modern slavery.   President Barack Obama, September 25, 2012


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with our federal partners, recognizes that many victims of human trafficking come into contact with the health care system.  Health care professionals are in an important position to help identify victims of human trafficking. They can effectively respond to a wide-range of physical and psychological health issues stemming from inhumane living conditions, poor sanitation, inadequate nutrition, brutal physical and emotional attacks, dangerous workplace conditions, severe trauma, and general lack of quality health care.  

In September 2013, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), with support from the HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH), launched a pilot initiative to enhance the health care system’s response to human trafficking. The SOAR to Health and Wellness Training was designed to help health care providers Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to human trafficking. The training built on multiple years of engagement with diverse stakeholders and federal partners, including the 2008 HHS National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims. The pilot training is part of the five-year Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, which calls for coordinated, victim-centered, culturally relevant, comprehensive, evidence-based, and trauma-informed care for victims and survivors.

A national technical working group comprised of health professionals, survivors of human trafficking, and other subject matter experts informed the development of the pilot training and evaluation. The trainings were held in September 2014 in Atlanta, GA; Boston, Mass.; Houston, TX; Oakland, Calif.; and Williston and New Town, N.D.  One hundred and eighty health care providers (e.g., physicians, nurses, dentists, clinical social workers) were trained and received a 3 month follow-up evaluation.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the scope, diversity, and types of human trafficking in the United States.
  2. Recognize the common indicators and high-risk factors for human trafficking.
  3. State how using trauma-informed techniques will enhance interaction with a potential victim of human trafficking.
  4. Identify local, state and national service referral resources for trafficking victims.


Project Contact:

Rochelle Rollins, PhD, MPH
Human Trafficking Health Policy Advisor
HHS/Administration for Children and Families


Additional Information:

Last Reviewed: December 18, 2015