Gender differences in the association of living and working conditions and the mental health of trafficking survivors

To assess the association of living and working conditions experienced during trafficking with mental health of female and male survivors.

We analyzed a cross-sectional study of 1015 survivors who received post-trafficking services in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Modified Poisson regression models were conducted by gender to estimate prevalence ratios.

For females, the elevated prevalence of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms was associated with adverse living conditions, while for males the prevalence of anxiety (PR = 2.21; 95% CI 1.24-3.96) and depression (PR = 2.63; 95% CI 1.62-4.26) more than doubled and almost tripled for PTSD (PR = 2.93; 95% CI 1.65-5.19) after adjustment. For males in particular, excessive and extreme working hours per day were associated with more than a four- and threefold greater prevalence of PTSD. Being in a detention center or jail was associated with all three mental health outcomes in males.

Providers and stakeholders need to consider the complex mental health trauma of the differential effects of living and working conditions for female and male survivors during trafficking to support treatment and recovery.