Improving firearm storage habits: impact of brief office counseling by family physicians

J Am Board Fam Pract. Jan-Feb 2003;16(1):40-6. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.16.1.40.

Abstract

Background: Firearm injury is the leading cause of injury-related death among youth and second leading cause of injury-related death overall in the United States. Our objective is to determine the impact of brief office counseling by family physicians on patients' firearm storage habits.

Methods: Of the 1,233 patients who completed the enrollment questionnaire, 156 (13%) reported they had guns in their household and agreed to participate in the study. Postintervention survey instruments were completed by 127 (81%) of participants. Participants received either no counseling, verbal counseling alone, or counseling and a gun safety brochure from their physician. Firearm storage habits were measured at baseline and 60 to 90 days after intervention.

Results: At the postintervention interview, 64% of the group receiving verbal counseling and 58% of the group receiving verbal counseling plus written information made a safe change in gun storage compared with 33% of participants in the no-intervention group (P =. 02). A logistic regression model controlling for demographics and gun ownership showed that compared with the no-intervention group, intervention participants were three times more likely to make safe changes.

Conclusions: Family physicians' brief counseling efforts made a significant positive impact in the firearm storage habits of their patients. With a verbal or written recommendation, a significant improvement was observed in firearm storage.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control