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Pediatricians’ involvement in gun injury prevention


Background: Injuries from small arms are of concern internationally. The health perspective is an emerging aspect of international work to reduce these injuries. This aspect has been evident in US firearm injury prevention work for over a decade, exhibited by strong statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to remove firearms from children’s environments.

Objectives: To assess trends among US pediatricians related to firearm injury prevention counseling practices and attitudes toward gun legislation.

Design: National random sample, mailed surveys of AAP members: (1) 1994 (response rate  = 68.9%, n = 982); (2) 2000 (response rate  = 62.4%, n = 922). χ2 Tests were used to assess bivariate relationships and logistic regression to assess multivariate relationships regarding counseling practices.

Results: Respondents in both years believed that violence prevention should be a priority for pediatricians (91.4% and 92.0%) and reported always or sometimes recommending handgun removal from the home (46.2% and 55.9%, respectively). In 2000, 74% of the respondents were comfortable discussing firearm safety; fewer thought they had sufficient training (32.7%) or time (27.5%) to discuss firearms. In 1994 and 2000, the likelihood of counseling on handgun removal was positively related to recent experience treating a gun injury, female sex and not owning a gun. In both years, >80% of pediatricians thought that gun control legislation or regulations would reduce injury and death.

Conclusions: US pediatricians continue to adopt policies promoting gun injury prevention. The practices and attitudes of pediatricians may be important for public education strategies regarding firearm injury prevention in the US and internationally.

  • AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics

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