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Receipt of clinician-delivered firearm safety counseling among U.S. Veterans: Results from a 2019 national survey.

Simonetti JA, Azrael D, Zhang W, Miller M. Receipt of clinician-delivered firearm safety counseling among U.S. Veterans: Results from a 2019 national survey. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. 2022 Dec 1; 52(6):1121-1125.

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OBJECTIVE: Seventy percent of suicides among U.S. veterans are due to firearm injury. Because discussions about firearm access are an important component of evidence-based suicide prevention programs, we sought to quantify the proportion of U.S. veterans who have discussed firearm safety with a healthcare provider. METHODS: Data come from a probability-based, nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults living in households with firearms in 2019 (response 65%). In this study, we include only self-identified veteran firearm owners. Respondents were asked, "Has a physician or other healthcare practitioner ever spoken to you about firearm safety?" Analyses were stratified by self-reported use of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) healthcare services. RESULTS: Overall, 31.5% (95% CI 27.5-35.8) reported using VHA services and 9.2% (95% CI 6.8-12.3) reported that a clinician had ever spoken with them about firearm safety (14.3% among VHA users, 6.8% among non-users). Of those who reported a discussion, nearly three quarters reported it was with an outpatient primary care physician or medical specialist. CONCLUSIONS: A large majority of veteran firearm owners have not had, or do not recall having had, a firearm safety discussion with a clinician, suggesting that additional efforts to facilitate such discussions in the VHA and elsewhere are needed.

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