Physician-driven or self-directed safe firearm storage guidance: Which one is best?

Brittany L. Johnson, Matthew W. Webb, Annalyn S. DeMello, Avni M. Bhalakia, Kristen L. Beckworth, David E. Wesson, Bindi Naik-Mathuria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background/purpose: Access to firearms is a preventable cause of unintentional injury and suicide in children. Pediatric physicians provide injury prevention guidance, but firearm safety may not routinely be included. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the effectiveness of firearm safety guidance (FSG) provided by a physician. Methods: Prospective, randomized-controlled, trial assessing physician-delivered FSG at two pediatric clinics in Houston, Texas. Firearm-owning parents were randomized to physician guidance (PG) versus control (CG) groups. The CG received a handout with firearm safety facts and a free cable lock. The PG additionally received FSG by a physician. Pre- and post-intervention surveys were conducted. Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi square analysis. Results: Thirty-two families participated; most (70%) were satisfied with the guidance. Pre-intervention safe firearm storage was high in both groups, and the intervention did not lead to improved habits in either group [PG: Pre 93% vs. Post 89%, p = 0.7 and CG: Pre 82% vs. 78%, p = 0.7].There was no difference in use of the free cable lock among groups (44% vs. 22%, p = 0.9). The PG demonstrated improved knowledge of the state child access protection law (PG: Pre 60% vs. Post 100% vs. CG: Pre 29% vs. Post 67%; p = 0.02). Conclusions: For firearm-owning parents, physician-delivered safe storage guidance may not be more effective than self-directed guidance provided by a handout. A larger trial is underway to confirm the findings of this pilot study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-461
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Firearm injury
  • Intervention
  • Pediatric
  • Pilot study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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