American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine Chief Research Officer Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, and Society of Behavioral Medicine President Sherry Pagoto, PhD co-hosted another installment of our #PWChat series on Tuesday, December 4. The topic focused on gun safety, and specifically: thoughts about calling gun violence a “public health” problem; whether this is or is not helpful, and why; the extent to which “gun violence” is similar or different from suicide prevention or assault prevention; the most important research questions to tackle in this area, as little progress has been made in gun violence research, and much more!

Below are the highlights from the chat. You can read the full transcript here, by scrolling down to the corresponding responses.

Click here for a look at our #PWChat schedule and recaps.

 

Question 1

Q1: Our first chat question. Is gun violence a public health issue??? Why or why not? #behavioralmedchat #pwchat pic..com/kPFUxLzWBR

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A1: Let’s consider the def of public health: “the health of the population as a whole, especially as monitored, regulated, and promoted by the state.” Gun violence is a behavior that causes injury and mortality, which fits squarely in public health. #behavioralmedchat #pwchat

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

Key point. We were told for many years that #gunviolence was a partisan or criminal justice issue. (1/2)#PWchat #behavioralmedchat

— Megan Ranney MD MPH (@meganranney) November 28, 2018

(2/2) But there’s a whole science of injury prevention that we’ve successfully applied to other injuries (like car crashes). By identifying #Gunviolence as a #publichealth problem, we can use the same science here.#PWChat #BehavioralMedChat

— Megan Ranney MD MPH (@meganranney) November 28, 2018

A1 Yes. Gun-violence, just like any other cause of morbidity or mortality, quality-adjusted life years, or disability-adjusted life years, is a valid topic for healthcare professionals#behavioralmedchat #pwchat

— Matthew Loxton (@mloxton) November 28, 2018

Question 2

Q2: How do we differentiate gun violence from suicide and assault prevention? Are these the same? #behavioralmedchat #pwchat pic..com/oZ22OZbjs3

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A2: While there is some overlap, these are not one in the same. Suicide prevention is about recognizing the warning signs of suicide and knowing more effective ways to act. Some but not all gun violence involves suicide. #behavioralmedchat #pwchat

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A2: I agree with @DrSherryPagoto that the definitions differ, but what is similar is that gun control would help to prevent all of these types of violence. #BehavioralMedChat #PWChat

— Joanna Buscemi (@Joanna_Buscemi) November 28, 2018

A2: they are not the same in that demographics, injury severity scores, motives/logic model, and even use of legal vs illegally obtained weapon differ. But accessibility does increase risk for all of above though in different ways. #behavioralmedchat #pwchat

— The Urban Resident (@theurbanres) November 29, 2018

A2: Overlapping themes but not quite the same. In #pediatrics I see many more suicide attempts from other methods (eg med overdose), but either way we’d talk about preventing the at-risk person from easily accessing the dangerous object(s) #pwchat #behavioralmedchat

— Jennifer K. Chen, MD FAAP (@DrJenChen4kids) November 28, 2018

Question 3

Q3: Let’s talk about a research agenda. What questions should we be asking? #PWchat #behavioralmedchat pic..com/hlJvmCnX1T

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A3: Research question: What are the characteristics of people (and their circumstances) that predict their engaging in gun violence? How do we identify vulnerable people so we can intervene before they act? #pwchat #behavioralmedchat

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A3: @AmerAcadPeds recently designated a decent chunk of funding for #gunviolence research, hopefully with more to come! #pwchat #behavioralmedchat https://t.co/Ldxir4FUkH

— Jennifer K. Chen, MD FAAP (@DrJenChen4kids) November 28, 2018

A3: a bit biased, but studying the effects of firearm and behavioral health legislation as a subset of health care policy seems to be what many want but rare in the literature

— The Urban Resident (@theurbanres) November 29, 2018

A3: I think a better understanding/surveillance of nonfatal injury would help. I’m unsatisfield with the @CDCInjury data which relies on billing codes (incomplete) and is a sample (not comprehensive). Plus, you can’t ask a dead person what happened. #PWchat #behavioralmedchat

— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin) November 28, 2018

Question 4

Q4: Most complex public health problems require all hands on deck. Who needs to be at the table? How to engage gun owners? #behavioralmedchat #pwchat pic..com/pZdfJIDI9C

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A4: The gun owners I know are. They are upset that poor gun control is making them all look irresponsible and/or dangerous. #behavioralmedchat #pwchat

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A4: Absolutely, responsible gun owners can be extremely effective advocates for sensible gun regulation & education. A group of gun owners in Oregon has created some really effective communication materials: https://t.co/qG1G82uNON #behavioralmedchat #pwchat #responsibleownership

— Arlen Moller (@arlenmoller) November 28, 2018

A4: One benefit of #ThisIsOurLane has been seeing more responsible gun owners come out of the woodwork in support of stricter #guncontrol. We have to show lawmakers that the NRA doesn’t speak for all gun owners (far from it!) #pwchat #BehavioralMedChat

— Jennifer K. Chen, MD FAAP (@DrJenChen4kids) November 28, 2018

Question 5

Q5: Last question has to do with how healthcare professionals, public health scientists, behavioral and social scientists, and the science community in general can participate more on this issue? #behavioralmedchat #PWchat pic..com/dbg1wyRNKr

— Sherry Pagoto (@DrSherryPagoto) November 28, 2018

A5: For those in @BehavioralMed who teach, offering more courses on #GunViolence could help facilitate effective advocacy. I just held the last meeting of the semester teaching a new course titled “Gun Violence, Psych, & Public Health” @illinoistech #BehavioralMedChat #PWChat

— Arlen Moller (@arlenmoller) November 28, 2018

Q5:
(a) Talk about the issue. Share your stories – whether clinical or personal – about how #Gunviolence has a human toll.#pwchat #BehavioralMedChat

— Megan Ranney MD MPH (@meganranney) November 28, 2018

A5: On the individual level, screening in our own practices. More broadly, keep spreading GOOD information on #SoMe, writing op-eds for more public audiences, writing/calling legislators (much like any other #advocacy) effort #pwchat #BehavioralMedChat

— Jennifer K. Chen, MD FAAP (@DrJenChen4kids) November 28, 2018

A5: Support the numerous community groups, organizations, and activists who have been deeply affected and already doing the work. *Support* as in active listening, helping, organizing, learning from, partnering with them on their terms. #behavioralmedchat #pwchat

— Thurka Sangaramoorthy (@Thurka149) November 28, 2018