MONDAY, April 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that the emergency room might be a good place to try to end the vicious cycle of gun violence among young adults.
"This study shows that youth seen and treated in urban emergency departments for an assault also have an elevated risk for severe forms of violence, including firearm violence, over the next two years," Dr. Patrick Carter, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and member of the University of Michigan Injury Center, said in a university news release.
Among teens and young adults seeking ED care for assault at an urban ED, 60 percent reported involvement with firearm violence over the next two years. These patients are also 40 percent more likely than non-assaulted youth patients to be the victim or perpetrator of this second round of violence, which will likely occur within six months of their original ER visit, the study found.
The researchers said the findings should encourage doctors and social services agencies to focus their prevention strategies on the "teachable moment" following a first assault or fight. The authors added that emergency rooms may be an ideal place to target these teens and young adults.
"The data also provides information on associated factors that increase this risk, and provides a roadmap for constructing evidence-based interventions to reduce the risk for severe firearm-related injury or death among high-risk youth populations," Carter said.
The study, published online April 6 in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that the young people treated for assault who had a substance abuse disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder were at greater risk for involvement in a future incident involving guns. Those who felt retaliation was the best way to respond to their assault were also at increased risk for this type of violence.
Race and gender played a role, too, the researchers found. Young men, as well as black men and women, were more likely to be involved in gun violence within two years of their ER visit.
Patients who already had a gun at the time of their initial treatment were also much more likely to be involved in a future confrontation with guns. Half of those who went on to be the perpetrator of such an incident reported having a gun at the time of their original ER visit, the study found.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has statistics on gun violence in America.