Changes in Firearm and Medication Storage Practices in Homes of Youths at Risk for Suicide: Results of the SAFETY Study, a Clustered, Emergency Department–Based, Multisite, Stepped-Wedge Trial,

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Changes in Firearm and Medication Storage Practices in Homes of Youths at Risk for Suicide: Results of the SAFETY Study, a Clustered, Emergency Department–Based, Multisite, Stepped-Wedge Trial,

Category: Firearm Availability, Suicide, Youth|Journal: Annals of Emergency Medicine|Author: C Barber, C Runyan, C Salhi, E Beatriz, G Berrigan, M Betz, M Miller, S Brandspigel|Year: 2020

Study objective

We evaluate whether a counseling intervention implemented at the hospital level resulted in safer firearm and medication storage by caregivers of youths aged 10 to 17 years after their child’s evaluation in the emergency department (ED) for a behavioral health concern.

 

Methods

We used a stepped-wedge clustered design rolled out at 4 hospital sites to assess primary preregistered outcomes (self-reported storage changes caregivers made to household firearms and medications), assessed by survey 2 weeks after the ED visit. Three logistic models provided estimates of the intervention effect: an unadjusted model, a model with hospital-level fixed effects, and a model that further adjusts for time.

 

Results

Of the 575 caregiver participants, 208 were firearm owners (123 in usual care, 85 in the intervention). Baseline (pre-ED visit) characteristics did not differ between usual care and intervention phases. During the 2-year study period, twice as many caregivers whose child visited the ED after (compared with before) a hospital adopted the intervention improved firearm storage and 3 times as many improved medication storage (odds ratio [OR]=2.1 [95% confidence interval {CI} 1.0 to ∞] and OR=3.0 [95% CI 2.2 to ∞], respectively). After adjusting for time, the intervention effect for medications persisted (OR=2.0 [95% CI 1.0 to ∞]); the effect on firearms did not (OR=0.7 [95% CI 0.1 to ∞]).

 

Conclusion

To our knowledge, this study is the first controlled trial to estimate the effectiveness of an intervention on firearm and medication storage in homes of youths at elevated risk of suicide. We found evidence that caregivers’ medication storage improved after their child’s ED visit, with evidence suggestive of improvement for firearm storage.

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