There are more than 30 hospital-based violence intervention and prevention programs throughout the country that mainly target high-risk individuals who have already been injured and connect them with resources, but one system’s anti-violence effort stands out.
Kaiser Permanente is investing $2 million toward identifying best practices for clinicians to help prevent injuries and death from guns for up to five research projects, a year-old effort co-led by Dr. David Grossman, senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
He said the effort to research gun violence has gained considerable momentum over the past year aside from National Institutes of Health funding. Last October Kaiser along with the American Hospital Association took part in a two-day workshop held by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on interventions health systems could implement to prevent firearm death and injury, with stakeholders exchanging ideas on strategies.
As far as its own efforts go, Kaiser in January sent out calls for research proposals to its eight regional research centers and has since received several responses, including from researchers who have not previously worked on gun violence issues.
Those proposals are under final review with funding selections expected to be made within the next month and an announcement on grant awards expected before July.
Grossman said any work funded will focus on developing interventions that are both scalable for use throughout Kaiser and can be incorporated within the care delivery system. “Ultimately the care providers know best what is likely to take root and be feasible with our health system,” Grossman said.
Other provider initiatives have included efforts to prevent suicide, the cause of more than two-thirds of firearm-related deaths.
Last September the American College of Emergency Physicians along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention launched a program aimed at developing risk assessments and treatment tools to aid emergency clinicians on how to identify risk factors in patients and deliver suicide prevention services.
And Dr. Eileen Bulger, chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, said the organization has created a firearm safety team that includes surgeons who are active firearm owners who can provide insight on effective ways clinicians can engage with patients about guns.
“You need to engage firearm owners in helping to create these solutions,” Bulger said.