Few physicians talk about gun safety with patients, study finds

Only 5 percent of U.S. adults say a physician or healthcare provider has ever spoken with them about gun safety, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

There have been 101 days in 2023 and 147 mass shootings in the U.S. in that same time, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Gun violence is increasingly affecting the lives of American adults and children at unprecedented rates that are not seen in other high-income countries.

As gun violence alters more and more lives, physicians and public health experts alike need to "keep the visibility of the issue front and center," Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling told Becker's in a previous interview on the topic. However, the Kaiser Family Foundation's new research points out that this is where healthcare is falling short. 

While few have ever been asked about gun safety or gun violence, of the ones who have, 14 percent of adults say a healthcare provider has at some point asked if they have guns in their home, according to the research. Additionally, only 26 percent of parents say their child's pediatrician has asked them if there are guns in the home — even though gun violence now accounts for 20 percent of childhood deaths.

The research also highlights that 54 percent of individuals have been threatened with a gun, have witnessed someone being shot, know someone who has been killed by gun violence (including suicide), been injured in a shooting or have had a family member who experienced one of these things. 

Michael Weiner, DO, the chief medical officer of Michigan State University Health in East Lansing, underscored to Becker's in a previous interview after the Michigan State shooting that gun violence is "truly a public health issue," and added that his two asks for the nation regarding the increase in gun violence would be for more "research on gun violence and more funding to support the mental well-being of our citizens."

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