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.