A Chicago health system has joined a new initiative that strives to find evidence-based interventions to counter the unyielding gun violence in many of the city's communities.
The Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative began in July as a partnership between Sinai Health System and the Illinois Public Health Institute to document incidents of gun violence and identify its root causes.
“Our goal is to create a community that is informed and a community-driven research agenda that we can implement in partnership with the various civic leaders and civic organizations,” said Sharon Homan, president of Sinai Health's Urban Health Institute.
One of the many issues the collaborative plans to examine is the long-term health impact on the people living in communities that experience constant gun violence. Experts have compared the trauma they endure to the experience of living in a war zone, and it's linked to higher incidence of chronic diseases and developmental problems for children and teens.
“We'll more deeply understand the impact of trauma, the causes of trauma, and ways to intervene,” Homan said.
Over the next year the collaborative will hold sessions with community leaders and advocates to guide the research priorities. The data they collect will be available to the public.
“We see the ravages of gun violence every single day in our trauma center and emergency rooms, and we will not sit idly by while grave injuries and homicides continue to escalate and devastate our city,” Karen Teitelbaum, president and CEO of Sinai Health System, said in a statement.
Chicago's gun violence this year has been so prolific that its numbers alone account for nearly half the total increase in the murder rate among the 30 largest U.S. cities, according to a recent analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice. Already more than 4,000 shootings have occurred, resulting in more than 700 deaths. '
The effort to collect more data on gun violence is a response to a dearth of research. In 1996, Congress passed a bill that prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding research intended to “advocate or promote gun control,” which remains in effect and many consider a de facto ban on federal support for such research.