Clinical psychologists' firearm risk management perceptions and practices

J Community Health. 2010 Feb;35(1):60-7. doi: 10.1007/s10900-009-9200-6.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the current perceptions and practices of discussing firearm risk management with patients diagnosed with selected mental health problems. A three-wave survey was mailed to a national random sample of clinical psychologists and 339 responded (62%). The majority (78.5%) believed firearm safety issues were greater among those with mental health problems. However, the majority of clinical psychologists did not have a routine system for identifying patients with access to firearms (78.2%). Additionally, the majority (78.8%) reported they did not routinely chart or keep a record of whether patients owned or had access to firearms. About one-half (51.6%) of the clinical psychologists reported they would initiate firearm safety counseling if the patients were assessed as at risk for self-harm or harm to others. Almost half (46%) of clinical psychologists reported not receiving any information on firearm safety issues. Thus, the findings of this study suggest that a more formal role regarding anticipatory guidance on firearms is needed in the professional training of clinical psychologists.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Counseling
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentally Ill Persons*
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychology, Clinical*
  • Risk Management*
  • Safety