Professor Cathy Zimmerman MA MSc PhD

Professor migration, health, vulnerable migrants, human trafficking, labour exploitation, gender-based violence


Dr. Cathy Zimmerman is a founding staff member of the Gender Violence & Health Centre at LSHTM. She is a behavioural and social scientist leading research on migration and health, specifically focussing on human trafficking, mobile populations and gender-based violence. She has conducted multi-country studies, including intervention evaluations on the health of trafficked men, women, adolescents and children. She and her team have findings from various corners of the world, including  Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom and several European countries. The European studies  generated the first data on the health risks and outcomes associated with trafficking and the Mekong research remains the largest on human trafficking and health, to date. Currently Dr. Zimmerman, with her co-PI, Dr. Ligia Kiss, is leading intervention evaluation research of the International Labour Organization's "Work in Freedom" programme in South Asia. In addition, collaborating with the IOM Cathy's team completed a multi-region study on exploitation, trafficking, and migrant health in South America and Central Asia. In partnership with King's College Institute of Psychiatry, Cathy co-led a multi-methods study (PROTECT) for England's Department of Health to help prepare the NHS to respond to the health needs of people who are trafficked in England. She is the author of the World Health Organization's WHO Recommendations for Interviewing Trafficked Women, IOM and LSHTM's Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers and other international resource materials for law enforcement, service providers and health professionals. Dr. Zimmerman also worked in Cambodia from 1993 to 1998 where she established the first local non-governmental organization against domestic violence against women and children.




Cathy lectures on migration and health, human trafficking, gender-based violence, conflict and health, research ethics and supervises MSc and PhD students.


She has conducted multi-country research on the health of trafficked women and adolescents, which generated the first-ever data on the health risks and outcomes associated with trafficking. Her research includes an intervention impact assessments of ILO's Work in Freedom programme in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Jordan (SWiFTE). a multi-region study on exploitation, trafficking, and Migrant Health (EXTREMHE); a study on health and trafficking, exploitation, abuse and migration in Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand (STEAM). Collaborating with King's College Institute of Psychiatry, she is co-leading a multi-methods study (PROTECT) for England's Department of Health to help prepare the NHS to respond to the health needs of people who are trafficked in England. Previously, she led two multi-country studies (qualitative and quantitative) on the health risks and consequences of women who have been trafficked in Europe and research on on Asylum-seeking Women, Violence and Health in Europe.

Her work has been recognised for the impact that it has on programming and policy-making:  

She is the author of the WHO Ethical and Safety Recommendations on Interviewing Trafficked Women and co-edited: Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Care Providers. These documents can be found at

From 1993 to 1998, Cathy founded and managed a local non-governmental organisation in Cambodia and carried out primary research, both qualitative and quantitative studies and a legal analysis, on domestic violence. She worked with local projects in Cambodia on child abuse, and trafficking in women and children. From 2000-2002,

Research areas

  • Adolescent health
  • Behaviour change
  • Child health
  • Conflict
  • Ethics
  • Gender
  • Global Health
  • Globalisation
  • Health inequalities
  • Impact evaluation
  • Migration
  • Occupational health
  • Research : policy relationship
  • Sexual health
  • Social and structural determinants of health
  • Violence


  • Development studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Policy analysis
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Mental health
  • Sexually transmitted disease


  • East Asia & Pacific (developing only)
  • Europe & Central Asia (developing only)
  • European Union
  • Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
  • Middle East & North Africa (all income levels)
  • South Asia


  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Czech Republic
  • Ethiopia
  • India
  • Italy
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Moldova
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Peru
  • Thailand
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vietnam

Other interests

  • Adolescents
  • Advocacy
  • Agency
  • Asia
  • Asylum Seekers
  • Behaviour Theory
  • Behavioural And Cultural Change
  • Centre for Global Mental Health
  • Change Theory
  • Child Marriage.
  • Child Sexual Abuse
  • Child labour
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Cluster Randomised Trials
  • Conflict affected populations
  • Distance Learning
  • Emotional Health
  • Ethics And Human Rights
  • Evaluation
  • Forced Migration
  • Forced labour
  • Gender Violence
  • Gender-based Violence
  • Gender-based violence
  • Human Behaviour
  • Human Rights
  • Interpersonal Violence
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Labour exploitation
  • Longitudinal Data
  • Low And Middle Income Countries
  • Marginalised Groups
  • Mental
  • Migrant Health
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Sex Work
  • Southeast Asia
  • Stigma
  • Theory of Change
  • Women's health
  • evidence based policies
  • guidelines
  • human trafficking
  • labour migration
  • migration and health
  • mobile populations
  • occupational health and safety
  • trafficking
  • trauma
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