MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Monika Goyal, M.D., M.S.C.E.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Emergency Medicine
Director of Research, Division of Emergency Medicine and Attending Physician
Children’s National Health System
The George Washington University
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: As pediatric emergency clinicians, unfortunately, many of us have cared for a number of children who have been victims of gun violence. We wanted to investigate whether gun laws may make a difference in the rates of firearm-related morbidity and mortality in children. We specifically were interested in emergency department visits because they relate directly to the care we provide to pediatric patients.
Our main findings from our five-year study were that children are affected by gun violence nationally and, specifically, we saw regional differences in emergency department visits made by children who were victims of firearm violence.
Overall, firearm-related visits by patients 21 and younger to emergency departments remained consistent over time at a rate of 65 per every 100,000 visits until 2013, when they decreased slightly to 51 per 100,000 visits.
We also found that regions with more strict gun laws had lower rates of emergency department visits by children for gun violence compared with those regions with less stringent laws. We used the Brady Score, which looks at various state gun laws and assigns a score, to measure strictness. Then, based on state-level scores, we created regional composite scores.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: I think the most important finding from our study is that regional variations in firearm-related emergency department visits among children were related to the strictness of gun laws in those regions. Regions that had more strict gun laws had lower rates of emergency department visits for firearm-related injuries among children.
The Northeast had the lowest rate at 40 per 100,000 visits. This was followed by the Midwest, West and South at 62, 68 and 71 per 100,000 visits, respectively. These numbers roughly matched the Brady Gun Law Scores for each region, with higher scores representing stricter gun laws. The Northeast had the highest Brady score at 45, followed by 8, 9 and 9 for the South, West and Midwest.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We think it is important to provide additional granularity by looking at specific gun laws and measuring whether any particular law is more effective in reducing pediatric morbidity from firearm violence. Maybe background checks are most effective; maybe it’s child access prevention laws. Using solely the Brady Score, we were unable to tease that out because it is a composite score that factors in a variety of gun laws. We also would like to quantify the effect of regional- and state-level gun culture on gun violence suffered by children.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, and here at Children’s National Health System we have developed a work group to foster additional research into firearm-related injury. Because firearm violence impacting children is a growing public health issue, there is a growing need for high-quality research in this area.
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Geographic regions with stricter gun laws have fewer emergency department visits for pediatric firearm-related injuries: A five-year national study
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