Journal of Community Health

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 313–324 | Cite as

Family Practice Physicians' Firearm Safety Counseling Beliefs and Behaviors

  • Sherry A. Everett
  • James H. Price
  • Archie W. Bedell
  • Susan K. Telljohann


The purpose of this study was to identify family physicians' firearm safety counseling beliefs and behaviors. A survey was mailed to a random sample of 600 members of the American Academy of Family Physicians. A three wave mailing technique was used to maximize the response rate and yielded 271 usable surveys (55% response rate). Outcome measures included training experience in firearm safety counseling, the prevalence of firearm safety counseling by family physicians, and their perceptions regarding such counseling. The majority (78%) of family physicians lacked formal training on how to counsel patients about firearm safety and 49% believed more time should be spent in residency programs on firearm safety counseling. The majority (84%) of respondents never or rarely counseled patients on firearm safety and 50% believed firearm safety counseling should be a low priority in their delivery of primary care. The majority of respondents did not regularly counsel patients about firearm safety, did not believe firearm safety counseling should be a priority, and did not believe firearm safety counseling would be effective in reducing firearm-related trauma.


Public Health Primary Care Random Sample American Academy Family Physician 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Killias M. International correlations between gun ownership and rates of homicide and suicide. Can Med Assoc J. 1993;148:1721–1725.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    American Medical Association Council of Scientific Affairs. Firearm injuries and deaths: A critical public health issue. Public Health Rep. 1989;104:111–120.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Centers for Disease Control. Deaths resulting from firearm-and motor vehicle-related injuries—United States, 1968–1991. MMWR. 1994;43:37–42.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    National Center for Health Statistics. Healthy people 2000 review. Health, United States, 1992. Hyattsville, MD: Public Health Service, 1993; DHHS publication no. (PHS)93-1232.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fingerhut LA, Kleinman JC. International and interstate comparisons of homicide among young males. JAMA. 1990;263:3292–3295.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Skolnick AA. Congress acts to resuscitate nations's financially ailing trauma care systems. JAMA. 1992;267:2994–2996.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Max W, Rice D. Shooting in the dark: Estimating the cost of firearm injuries. Health Aff. 1993;12:171–185.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Fincher RE, Lewis SA, Jackson TW. Why students choose a primary care or nonprimary care career. Am J Prev Med. 1994;97:410–417.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Centers for Disease Control. Counseling practices of primary care physicians-North Carolina, 1991. MMWR. 1992;41:3565–568.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pearson RJ, Kane WM, Keimowitz HK. The preventive medicine physician: A national study. Am J Prev Med. 1988;4:289–297.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Price JH, Desmond SM, Losh DP. Patients' expectations of the family physician in health promotion. Am J Prev Med. 1991;7:33–39.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Williamson PS, Driscoll CE, Dvorak LD, Garber KA, Shank JC. Health screening examinations: The patient's perspective. J Fam Prac. 1988;27:187–192.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Boot D, Gillies P, Fenelon J, Reubin R, Wilkings M, Gray P. Evaluation of the short-term impact of counseling in general practice. Patient Educ Couns. 1994;24:79–89.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Harris RP, O'Malley MS, Fletcher SW, Knight BP. Prompting physicians for preventive procedures: A five-year study of manual and computer reminders. Am J Prev Med. 1990;6:145–152.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Johns MB, Hovell MF, Drastal CA, Lamke C, Patrick K. Promoting prevention services in primary care: A controlled trial. Am J Prev Med. 1992;8:135–140.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Patterson J, Fried RA, Nagle JP. Impact of a comprehensive health promotion curriculum on physician behavior and attitudes. Am J Prev Med. 1989;5:44–49.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dolins JC, Christoffel KK. Reducing violent injuries: Priorities for pediatrician advocacy. Pediatrics. 1994;94:638–651.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hamilton S. Talking to your patients about gun violence and gun safety. Minn Med. 1995;78(9):20–22.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hausman AJ, Prothrow-Stith D, Spivak H. Implementation of violence prevention education in clinical settings. Patient Educ Couns. 1995;25:205–210.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    May JP, Martin KL. A role for the primary care physician in counseling young African-American men about homicide prevention. J Gen Intern Med. 1993;8:380–382.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mills H. Safe hunting. Minn Med. 1995;78(9):25–28.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Voelker R. Taking aim at handgun violence. JAMA. 1995;273:1739–1740.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Webster DW, Wilson ME. Gun violence among youth and the pediatrician's role in primary prevention. Pediatrics. 1994;94:617–622.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Fargason CA, Johnston C. Gun ownership and counseling of Alabama pediatricians. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:442–446.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Camosy PA. Incorporating gun safety into clinical practice. Am Fam Physician 1996;54:971–975.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Price JH, Clause M, Everett SA. Patients' Perceptions of the Role of Physicians in Counseling about Firearms. Patient Educ Couns. 1995;25:163–170.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Webster DW, Wilson ME, Duggan AK, Pakula LC. Firearm injury prevention counseling: A study of pediatricians' beliefs and practices. Pediatrics. 1992;89:902–907.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Grossman DC, Mang K, Rivara FP. Firearm injury prevention counseling by pediatricians and family physicians. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:973–977.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Dillman DA. Increasing mail questionnaire response in large samples of the general public. Public Opin Q. 1972;36:254–257.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Fox RJ, Crask MR, Kim J. Mail survey response rate: A meta-analysis of selected techniques for inducing response. Public Opin Q. 1988;52:467–491.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Maheux B, Legault C, Lambert J. Increasing response rates in physicians' mail surveys: An experimental study. Am J Public Health. 1989;79:638–639.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Moss VD, Worthen BR. Do personalization and postage make a difference on response rates to surveys of professional populations? Psychol Rep. 1991;68:692–694.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ogborne AC, Rush B, Fondacaro R. Dealing with nonrespondents in a mail survey of professionals. Eval Health Prof. 1986;9:121–128.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yammarino FJ, Skinner SJ, Childers TL. Understanding mail survey response behavior: A meta-analysis. Public Opin Q. 1991;55:613–639.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kelly RB. Controlled trial of a time-efficient method of health promotion. Am J Prev Med. 1988;4:200–207.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kottke TE, Brekke ML, Solberg LI, Hughes JR. A randomized trial to increase smoking intervention by physicians. JAMA. 1989;261:2101–2106.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Logsdon DN, Lazaro CM, Meier RV. The feasibility of behavioral risk reduction in primary medical care. Am J Prev Med. 1989;5:249–256.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Berk ML. Interviewing physicians: The effect of improved response rate. Am J Public Health. 1985;75:1338–1340.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Guadagnoli W, Cunningham S. The effects of nonresponse and late response on a survey of physician attitudes. Eval Health Prof. 1989;12:318–328.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Sobal J, Ferentz KS. Comparing physicians' responses to the first and second mailings of a questionnaire. Eval Health Prof. 1989;12:329–339.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sherry A. Everett
    • 1
  • James H. Price
    • 2
  • Archie W. Bedell
    • 3
  • Susan K. Telljohann
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion and Human PerformanceThe University of ToledoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Promotion and Human Performance The University of ToledoUSA
  3. 3.Mercy Hospital Family Practice Residency ProgramUSA
  4. 4.Health Promotion and Human PerformanceThe University of ToledoUSA

Personalised recommendations