What Are Parents Willing to Discuss with Their Pediatrician About Firearm Safety? A Parental Survey

J Pediatr. 2016 Dec:179:166-171. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.08.019. Epub 2016 Sep 14.


Objective: To determine if parents are receptive to discussing firearm safety with their pediatrician.

Study design: Parents completed a self-administered paper survey during a pediatric office visit. Responses of those who confirmed and denied household firearms were compared using Fisher exact test.

Results: Between March 23 and May 21, 2015, 1246 of 1363 eligible parents (91.4%) completed the survey (22.6% African American, 79.5% at least some college education); 36% of respondents reported household firearms (owners). An additional 14.3% reported that their child was often in homes that contained firearms. Of the 447 owners, 25.1% reported ≥1 firearm was stored loaded, and 17.9% carried a firearm when leaving the house. Seventy-five percent of parents thought the pediatrician should advise about safe storage of firearms (owners 71.1%, others 77.5%), 16.9% disagreed (owners 21.9%, others 13.4%), and 8.2% were uncertain. Sixty-six percent thought pediatricians should ask about the presence of household firearms (owners 58.4%, others 70.9%), 23.2% disagreed (owners 31.5%, others 17.8%), and 10.5% were uncertain. Differences in parental opinions between owners and other parents were statistically significant. Twenty-two percent of owners would ignore advice to not have household firearms for safety reasons, and 13.9% would be offended by such advice. Only 12.8% of all parents reported a discussion about firearms with the pediatrician.

Conclusions: Avoiding direct questioning about firearm ownership and extending the discussion about why and how to ensure safe storage of firearms to all parents may be an effective strategy to decrease firearm-related injuries and fatalities in children.

Keywords: firearms; patient safety; practice-based research network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Safety*
  • Self Report