Internists’ attitudes toward prevention of firearm injury

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Internists’ attitudes toward prevention of firearm injury

Category: Firearm Policies|Journal: Annals of Internal Medicine (full text)|Author: A Weissman, R Butkus|Year: 2014

Background

Professional organizations have called for the medical community’s attention to the prevention of firearm injury. However, little is known about physicians’ attitudes and practices in preventing firearm injury.

 

Objective

To determine internists’ attitudes and practices about firearms and to assess whether opinions differ according to whether there are gun owners in a physician’s home.

 

Design

Cross-sectional survey.

 

Setting

Internal medicine practices.

 

Participants

573 internists representative of American College of Physicians’ members.

 

Measures

Respondents’ experiences and reported practice behaviors related to firearms and their opinions about contributors and public policies related to firearm violence, as well as physician education and training in firearm safety.

 

Results

The survey response rate was 56.5%. Eighty-five percent of respondents believed that firearm injury is a public health issue, and 71% believed that it is a bigger problem today than a decade ago. Seventy-six percent of respondents believed that stricter gun control legislation would help reduce the risks for gun-related injuries or deaths. Although 66% of respondents believed that physicians should have the right to counsel patients on preventing deaths and injuries from firearms, 58% reported never asking whether patients have guns in their homes.

 

Limitations

The generalizability of these findings to non-American College of Physicians’ member internists and other physicians is unknown. Responses may not reflect actual behavior.

 

Conclusion

Most respondents believed that firearm-related violence is a public health issue and favored policy initiatives aimed at reducing it. Although most internists supported a physician’s right to counsel patients about gun safety, few reported currently doing it.

 

Primary funding source

None.

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