Youth’s Daily Activities and Situational Triggers of Gunshot Assault in Urban Environments

Dong, B., Branas, C. C., Richmond, T. S., Morrison, C. N., & Wiebe, D. J. (2017). Youth’s daily activities and situational triggers of gunshot assault in urban environmentsJournal of Adolescent Health, 61(6), 779-785.


Purpose: Although previous research has made progress in identifying individuals predicted to face an elevated risk of being shot, it is not clear how that risk varies within individuals based on the contexts they encounter as they navigate daily life. The current study examines how the convergence of individual risk activity and neighborhood disadvantage and disorder triggers the risk of being shot.

Methods: Using a novel geographic information system application, 123 male gunshot assault victims between 10 and 24 years old in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, described their minute-by-minute movements over the course of the day of the gunshot assault. Through latent class analysis, the primary exposure was real-life circumstance where nine theoretically informed risk factors converged, compared with two other circumstances. Case-crossover analyses of subjects’ 10-minute segments of full-day activities compared gunshot assault victims at the time of assault with themselves earlier in the day.

Results: Compared to when individuals were exposed to minimal situational risk or were mainly exposed to neighborhood disadvantage and disorder, the concurrence of risk activity and neighborhood disadvantage and disorder was associated with a 9.90 (95% CI: 2.72-36.14) and 6.06 (95% CI: 2.78-13.22) times higher risk of being shot. Importantly, the likelihood of being in the high-risk circumstance increased systematically over the course of the day leading up to the time when young individuals were shot.

Conclusions: After controlled individual’s propensity to be shot (e.g., inherent traits), the concurrence of situational risks emerged as significant triggers of gunshot assault. The findings suggest potential for community-based gunshot violence interventions.

Keywords: Community-based intervention; Gunshot assault; Momentary analysis; Risk profiles; Routine activities.