Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, director of the University of Colorado Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative and professor of emergency medicine in the CU School of Medicine, led a study that examined Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) cases for older adults in six states. The study was funded by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research and published earlier this month in the journal Clinical Gerontologist.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) allow a court to restrict firearm access for individuals at imminent risk of harm to themselves or others. While there are multiple studies analyzing cases state-by-state, little is known about the use of ERPOs for older adults, a population with higher rates of suicide and dementia.

“This study is significant because it’s one of the first of its kind to evaluate ERPO cases of older adults with cognitive impairment,” says Betz. “There’s been public discussion on how ERPOs could be used for cognitive impairment, but now we have data and analysis of how they are actually being used in this population.”

Collaboration, analysis, and results

The funding from the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research brought together researchers across the country to look at how ERPOs are being used across multiple states, Betz says. In addition to researchers from the CU Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative, the research team includes other leading ERPO experts who had existing knowledge of how to obtain ERPO documents and data from their states.

The lead investigators on the larger, multi-state study of ERPO use were April Zeoli PhD, MPH, associate professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan, and Shannon Fratteroli, PhD professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University.

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