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Report Emphasizes Physicians' Role in Gun Policy Discussions

Multiple roles, as clinicians, researchers, leaders, policy advocates, and in managing fear

MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians can play important roles in discussions of gun policy and prevention of gun violence, according to a report published online Feb. 12 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Noting that in survey findings from 15 years ago most physicians viewed gun violence as a public health problem and supported a more active role for the professional in preventing gun violence, Shannon Frattaroli, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the role of health care providers, in particular physicians, in the discussions regarding gun violence prevention.

The authors described five strategies for physician engagement within the context of gun policy dialogue. As clinicians, physicians can help to encourage reasoned discussion on guns and gun violence prevention with both patients and colleagues. By managing fear, as physicians do in other contexts, they can help people cope with feelings of victimization and an overreaching government. As researchers, physicians can be involved in a research agenda that will inform future gun violence prevention efforts. Physicians also have a role to play as policy advocates and as leaders within their communities.

"We don't believe the public will has yet been realized on this issue," the authors write. "Perhaps that is changing with the new interest being expressed, and perhaps that interest will be helped along by a physician community ready to declare that medicine and public health must be part of the response to the violence that has become such a defining feature of American life."

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Physician's Briefing