Firearm injury prevention counseling by pediatricians and family physicians. Practices and beliefs

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Sep;149(9):973-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170220039005.


Objectives: To ascertain and compare beliefs, attitudes, and counseling practices of primary care physicians of children and adolescents regarding firearm injury prevention counseling.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: State of Washington.

Subjects: All active members of the state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians. A total of 979 pediatricians and family physicians (53%) responded to the survey after two mailings.

Main outcome measures: Attitudes, beliefs, and current practices with regard to firearm safety counseling among families of child and adolescent patients.

Results: Only 25% of pediatricians and 12% of family physicians currently counsel more than 5% of their patients. Pediatricians were more likely than family physicians (70% vs 46%, P < .001, chi 2 test) to believe that physicians have a responsibility to counsel families about firearm safety. Pediatricians recommended removing guns from the home more frequently than family physicians (32% vs 19%, P < .001, chi 2 test), but most physicians of both specialties perceived that parents are rarely receptive to this advice. However, 97% of physicians from both specialties agreed that firearms should be stored locked separately from ammunition, and a substantial majority believed that parents would be receptive to this advice. Compared with physicians who owned guns (32%), non-owners were 15 times more likely (odds ratio, 15; 95% confidence interval, 10 to 23) to agree that families with children should not keep firearms in the home.

Conclusions: Few primary care physicians who see children and adolescents currently counsel families about firearm safety, although many agree that they have such a responsibility. At least half of these physicians would potentially benefit from an intervention to improve their knowledge of and counseling skills on this topic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Counseling*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics
  • Physicians, Family
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Washington
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control*