Firearm safety counseling among caregivers of high-school age teens: Results from a National Survey

Seewald, L. A., Myers, M., Zimmerman, M. A., Walton, M. A., Cunningham, R. M., Rupp, L. A., Haasz, M., & Carter, P. M. 

Abstract

Firearms are the leading cause of death for high-school age teens. To inform prevention efforts, we characterize the prevalence of healthcare provider (HCP) counseling of caregivers of teens around firearm safety, safety conversation elements, and caregiver receptivity towards counseling. A cross-sectional web survey (6/24/2020-7/22/2020) was conducted among caregivers (n = 2924) of teens (age:14-18). Weights were applied to generate nationally representative estimates. Bivariate analyses and multivariate regressions were examined. Among respondents, 56.0% were women, 75.1% were non-Hispanic White, and mean (SD) age was 47.4. Firearm safety was the least discussed topic among caregivers reporting their teen received HCP preventative counseling (14.9%). For caregivers receiving counseling, the most common issues discussed were household firearms screening (75.7%); storing firearms locked (66.8%); and storing firearms unloaded (53.0%). Only 24.6% of caregivers indicated firearm safety was an important issue for teen HCPs to discuss and only 21.9% trusted teen HCPs to counsel about firearm safety. Female caregivers (aOR = 1.86;95%CI = 1.25-2.78), those trusting their teen’s HCP to counsel on firearm safety (aOR = 9.63;95%CI = 6.37-14.56), and those who received teen HCP firearm safety counseling (aOR = 5.14;95%CI = 3.02-8.72) were more likely to favor firearm safety counseling. Caregivers of teens with prior firearm safety training (aOR = 0.50;95%CI = 0.31-0.80) were less likely to agree that firearm safety was an important preventative health topic. In conclusion, few caregivers receive preventive counseling on firearm safety from their teen’s HCP, with trust a key barrier to effective intervention delivery. Future research, in addition to understanding barriers and establishing effective strategies to increase safety practices, should focus on increasing provider counseling competency.

Keywords: Caregiver; Counseling; Firearm; Injury prevention; Preventative health; Safe storage; Teen.