New York-based Northwell Health on Wednesday launched a research effort to reduce the impact of gun violence.
Northwell's Center for Gun Violence Prevention will focus on developing a blueprint that could help providers reduce gun violence and promote gun safety.
Dr. Chethan Sathya, a pediatric surgeon and associated trauma medical director at Northwell Health's Cohen Children's Medical Center, will lead the center. He said one of the major goals of the initiative is to develop a curriculum on the most effective strategies that clinicians can use to counsel patients on gun safety.
"We know that most physicians don't counsel patients on gun safety, feel very uncomfortable doing so, and just don't have any idea what the questions to ask are," Sathya said. "We do want to create a curriculum for healthcare providers so that they're more comfortable screening for gun violence."
The center wants to develop a set of questions that can be integrated within the health system's electronic health record to better identify at-risk patients who may be in need of counseling, Sathya said.
Northwell plans to fund research projects within the health system and provide support for proposals from unaffiliated researchers.
The health system started a national campaign to reduce gun violence's impact last year. In December, Northwell CEO Michael Dowling announced the health system would invest $1 million toward gun violence prevention efforts. Dowling also sought the support of other health system CEOs in August to lobby lawmakers to take substantive action on gun control.
A handful of health systems across that country in recent years launched their own research efforts to examine gun safety after two decades of inactivity on federal public health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention halted much of its research on gun violence prevention after Congress put in place a de facto federal funding ban in 1996.
Since then, there have been relatively few studies and little funding allocated toward gun violence research compared to other public health concerns. Between 2004 and 2015, $22 million was spent on gun violence research, resulting in 1,738 research publications, according to a 2017 analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. By contrast, more than 46,000 research publications were written on HIV between 2004 and 2015, with $19.3 billion of funding.
Nearly 40,000 firearm-related deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2017, according to the CDC. In December, Congress for the first time in more than 20 years approved $25 million in federal funding to study the public health impact of gun violence.