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Acceptability of potential interventions to increase firearm safety among patients in VA mental health treatment.

Valenstein M, Walters H, Pfeiffer PN, Ganoczy D, Miller M, Fiorillo M, Bossarte RM. Acceptability of potential interventions to increase firearm safety among patients in VA mental health treatment. General hospital psychiatry. 2018 Nov 1; 55:77-83.

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OBJECTIVE: Veterans in mental health care have high rates of firearm-related suicide; reducing firearm access during high-risk periods could save lives. We assessed veteran patients'' attitudes towards voluntary interventions to reduce access. METHODS: Descriptive data came from surveys mailed to random samples of veterans receiving mental health care in five geographically diverse VA facilities. Survey items inquired about the acceptability of seven voluntary health system interventions to address firearm access, ranging from lower-intensity interventions that addressed safety but might not reduce access (i.e., clinician screening; distribution of gunlocks) to interventions substantially limiting access (i.e., storage of firearms offsite; gun disposal). Mailings occurred between 5/11/15 and 10/19/15; 677 of 1354 veterans (50%) returned the surveys. RESULTS: 93.2% of respondents endorsed one or more health system interventions addressing firearm access; 75.0% endorsed interventions substantially limiting access. Although veterans with household firearms were less likely to endorse interventions, fully 50.4% would personally participate in at least one intervention that substantially limited access. DISCUSSION: A majority of veterans in VA mental health care endorse voluntary health system interventions addressing firearm access during high-risk periods for suicide. Approximately half of veterans with firearms would personally participate in an intervention that substantially limited firearm access.

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