Pediatrician Counseling Boosts Gun Safety at Home

Parents more likely to lock up firearms after brief intervention, study found

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TUESDAY, Nov. 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatricians who provide brief counseling and training sessions on gun safety can greatly improve parents' gun-storage behaviors, a new study finds.

The study, led by Dr. Paul Carbone of the Children's Primary Care Medical Group, in San Diego, included 151 parents who brought their children to a large, predominately Hispanic pediatric clinic in Tucson, Ariz.

Carbone's team noted that in 2001, nearly 3,000 children and teens in the United States died as a result of gun-related injuries.

Some of the parents in the study were assigned to an intervention group where they received gun-safety counseling, a gun-safety brochure and a free gun lock. The other parents were assigned to a control group that received no gun-safety counseling or information.

Both groups of parents were surveyed about their gun ownership and storage behaviors at the start of the study and again one month later.

"At follow-up, families who received the intervention were more likely to have improved overall gun-safety practices compared with the control group (61.6 percent vs. 26.9 percent)," the study authors reported in the November issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In homes with guns, nearly 51 percent of parents who received the counseling said they had initiated some type of improvement in safe gun storage after the counseling, compared with just over 12 percent of parents who did not receive the training.

"More specifically, 25.0 percent in the intervention group improved the frequency of locked storage of guns compared with 4.8 percent of those in the control group," the researchers reported. "Twenty-six percent of the intervention group improved the use of locked storage compared with 3.1 percent in the control group."

"Although our intervention did not appear to significantly influence the removal of guns from the home, it did significantly improve safe gun storage practices," the San Diego team concluded.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and gun safety.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives, news release, Nov. 7, 2005

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