New AAP research examines US pediatric residents’ experience treating gun injuries

Recent tragic instances of suicide, urban violence and mass shootings have generated renewed concern among pediatricians regarding firearm violence

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Credit: Pediatric Academic Societies

BALTIMORE – A new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study examines U.S. pediatric residents’ experience during training in caring for children injured by guns, and their attitudes toward counseling families and public policies to address gun injury. Findings from the study will be presented during the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2019 Meeting, taking place on April 24 – May 1 in Baltimore.

“Recent, tragic increases in deaths of children, teens and young adults from suicide, urban violence and mass shootings have generated renewed concern among pediatricians regarding firearm violence,” said Lynn Olson, PhD, one of the authors of the study. “What we found in this study, is that clinicians’ experience treating gun injuries begins very early in their training.”

The study found that by completion of residency, seven of 10 pediatricians have direct experience with gun injuries. While personal background and geographic region shape attitudes on best approaches to reduce gun violence, large majorities believe pediatricians have a role in counseling families and support policies aimed at reducing gun injury for children.

The results indicated 69% of residents report caring for gun injuries during training (median injuries=3). In their own background, 30% grew up in a home with a gun. In attitudes toward counseling, 90% agree (strongly agree or somewhat agree combined) pediatricians should ask about the presence of guns in the home, 96% agree pediatricians should ask parents to unload/lock guns; and 44% agree pediatricians should ask parents to remove guns from the home. In attitudes toward public policy, high portions agree with policies such as universal background checks (95%) or banning assault weapons (90%), while few, (14%), support allowing teachers to carry guns in K-12.

Data was drawn from the 2018 AAP Annual Survey of Graduating Residents, a random sample across all U.S. programs (response=49%; analytic sample=480). Respondents were asked if they cared for children injured by guns during training. Using a 5-point scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree), respondents also expressed their attitudes toward counseling by pediatricians (three items) and public policies that may reduce firearm injuries (six items). Chi-Square examined variations in attitudes by: experience treating gun injury, gender, region of residency training, and whether guns in their home growing up.

No attitude variations were found by whether the resident had treated gun injury. Few variations were found by gender. Support of public policies varied most by region of the country where trained and firearms in home growing up. For example, 98% in the Northeast, 93% in the West, 88% in the Midwest versus 80% in the South support banning assault weapons (p<.001 of those who grew up without a gun in the home versus did support banning assault weapons>

Dr. Olson will present findings from “U.S. Pediatric Residents’ Experience Treating Gun Injuries and Views on Approaches to Reduce Gun Injury” on Monday, April 29 at 4 p.m. EDT. Reporters interested in an interview with Dr. Olson should contact PAS2019@piercom.com. Please note that only the abstracts are being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researchers may have additional data to share with media.

The PAS 2019 Meeting brings together thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers to improve the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information about the PAS 2019 Meeting, please visit http://www.pas-meeting.org.

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About the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting brings together thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers united by a common mission: to improve the health and well-being of children worldwide. This international gathering includes pediatric researchers, leaders in pediatric academics, clinical care providers and community practitioners. Presentations cover issues of interest to generalists as well as topics critical to a wide array of specialty and sub-specialty areas. The PAS Meeting will be the premier North American scholarly child health meeting. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four pediatric organizations that are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy: American Pediatric Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Academic Pediatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, please visit http://www.pas-meeting.org. Follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and #PAS2019, and like us on Facebook.

Abstract: U.S. Pediatric Residents’ Experience Treating Gun Injuries and Views on Approaches to Reduce Gun Injury

Background: Recent tragic instances of mass shootings and urban violence have generated renewed concern among pediatricians regarding firearm violence. Experience as a clinician with gun injuries begins in training.

Objective: Examine pediatric residents’ experience during training in caring for children injured by guns, and attitudes toward 1) counseling families and 2) public policies to address gun injury.

Design/Methods: Data drawn from the 2018 AAP Annual Survey of Graduating Residents, a random sample across all U.S. programs (response=49%; analytic sample=480). Respondents were asked if they cared for children injured by guns during training. Using a 5-point scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree), respondents also expressed their attitudes toward counseling by pediatricians (three items) and public policies that may reduce firearm injuries (six items). Chi-Square examined variations in attitudes by: experience treating gun injury, gender, region of residency training, and whether guns in their home growing up.

Results: 69% of residents report caring for gun injuries during training (median injuries=3). In their own background 30% grew up in a home with a gun. In attitudes toward counseling (Figure 1): 90% agree (strongly agree or somewhat agree combined) pediatricians should ask about the presence of guns in the home, 96% agree pediatricians should ask parents to unload/lock guns; and 44% agree pediatricians should ask parents to remove guns from the home. In attitudes toward public policy (Figure 2) high portions agree with policies such as universal background checks (95%) or banning assault weapons (90%), while few, (14%), support allowing teachers to carry guns in K-12. No attitude variations were found by whether the resident had treated gun injury. Few variations were found by gender. Support of public policies varied most by region of the country where trained and firearms in home growing up. For example, 98% in the Northeast, 93% in the West, 88% in the Midwest versus 80% in the South support banning assault weapons (p<.001 of those who grew up without a gun in the home versus did support banning assault weapons>

Conclusions: By completion of residency, seven of 10 pediatricians have direct experience with gun injuries. While personal background and geographic region shape attitudes on best approaches to reduce gun violence, large majorities believe pediatricians have a role in counseling families and support policies aimed at reducing gun injury for children.

Authors: Lynn Olson, Research, American Academy of Pediatrics; Mary Pat Frintner, American Academy of Pediatrics; Chloe Somberg, American Academy of Pediatrics

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