Barriers to Firearm Injury Research

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Barriers to Firearm Injury Research

Category: Injury|Journal: American Journal of Preventive Medicine|Author: D Kafashzadeh, G Badolato, J Cohen, K Donnelly, K Roche, M Goyal, P Bhansali, S Patel|Year: 2020


Firearm injuries and motor vehicle injuries are 2 leading causes of fatal injury in the U.S., each accounting for approximately 35,000 deaths annually. Research on firearm injuries is under-represented compared with research on motor vehicle collisions. This study seeks to identify perceived barriers to firearm injury research versus motor vehicle injury research.


This was a mixed-methods survey of corresponding authors of a minimum of 1 study, archived in PubMed, related to firearm injury or motor vehicle injury between 2014 and 2018. Analyses were performed in 2019. Electronic surveys included both closed- and open-ended questions to assess barriers to research. Bivariable and multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify differences in perceptions to barriers between the 2 groups. Qualitative analysis of free-text responses was performed through inductive derivation of themes.


Surveys were distributed to 113 firearm injury researchers (42% response rate) and 241 motor vehicle injury researchers (31.5% response rate). After adjustment, firearm injury researchers were less likely to cite institutional support (AOR=0.3, 95% CI=0.1, 0.8) as a factor contributing to their success, than motor vehicle injury researchers. Firearm injury researchers were more likely to report fear of personal threats (AOR=10.4, 95% CI=2.4, 44.4) and experiencing personal threats (AOR=16.1, 95% CI=1.6, 165.4). Thematic analysis revealed 4 themes: career, political, funding, and harassment.


When compared with motor vehicle injury researchers, firearm injury researchers are significantly more likely to report limited support and threats to personal safety as barriers to research. Further research to understand the impact of these barriers and methods to overcome them is needed.
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