Objectives: To conduct a systematic review of methodologies, data sources, and best practices for identifying, calculating, and reporting recurrent firearm injury rates in the United States.
Methods: In accordance with PRISMA guidelines, we searched seven electronic databases on December 16, 2021, for peer-reviewed articles that calculated recurrent firearm injury in generalizable populations. Two reviewers independently assessed the risk of bias, screened the studies, extracted data, and a third resolved conflicts.
Findings: Of the 918 unique articles identified, 14 met our inclusion criteria and reported recurrent firearm injury rates from 1% to 9.5%. We observed heterogeneity in study methodologies, including data sources utilized, identification of subsequent injury, follow-up times, and the types of firearm injuries studied. Data sources ranged from single-site hospital medical records to comprehensive statewide records comprising medical, law enforcement, and social security death index data. Some studies applied machine learning to electronic health records to differentiate subsequent new firearm injuries from the index injury, while others classified all repeat firearm-related hospital admissions after variably defined cut-off times as a new injury. Some studies required a minimum follow-up observation period after the index injury while others did not. Four studies conducted survival analyses, albeit using different methodologies.
Conclusions: Variability in both the data sources and methods used to evaluate and report recurrent firearm injury limits individual study generalizability of individual and societal factors that influence recurrent firearm injury. Our systematic review highlights the need for development, dissemination, and implementation of standard practices for calculating and reporting recurrent firearm injury.
Keywords: Emergency medicine; Firearm injury rates; Injury prevention; Public health; Recurrent firearm injury; United States.
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