Gun Violence Exposure Associated with Higher Rates of Mental Health-Related ED Visits by Children

Philadelphia-Exposure to neighborhood gun violence is associated with increased odds of pediatric emergency department visits related to mental health among children who live four to five blocks from a shooting, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Children. Philadelphia Hospital, published today in Gamma Pediatrics.

The study revealed a significant increase in child mental health emergency department visits after neighborhood gun violence incidents, which was more pronounced in the two weeks following the shooting, among children who resided near where the violence occurred, and among children who experienced multiple gunfire.

“Gun violence affects the entire community, other than personally injured victims,” said the lead author. Aditi Vasan, MD, MSHP, Instructor of pediatrics at Perelman College of Medicine and pediatrician and health services researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Now that we have confirmed that exposure to gunfire negatively impacts children’s mental health, we can work to develop ways to provide preventive and response support to children and families exposed to gun violence in the neighborhood.”

Using data from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), researchers examined the number of ED visits to children ages 0-19 from 12 Philadelphia ZIP codes that were primarily for mental health concerns, such as PTSD, depression, intentional ingestion of harmful substances, and conditions Other psychological emergencies. Next, they reviewed the Philadelphia Police Department warehouse for the city shooting open data website To determine the number of these children who experienced gun violence in the 60 days prior to the emergency department visit. A child was considered exposed to gun violence if he lived within a quarter of a mile (4-5 blocks) from the reported shooting. As a control, the researchers also assessed the incidence of mental health-related ED visits in the 60 days prior to the shooting as well.

Of the 54,341 patients included in the study, 43,143 underwent one or more emergency department visits in the 60 days after the shooting, and 42,913 had one or more emergency department visits in the 60 days before the shooting. Of the 2,629 shooting incidents in the data set, 814 (31%) had one or more mental health emergency visits in the 60 days following the shooting. Children who resided within one-eighth of a mile, or 2-3 blocks from an episode of armed violence, had greater odds of visiting mental health-related ED.

Children develop symptoms of mental health distress within days of being exposed to a single shooting. What’s more, in Philadelphia and other cities across the United States, gun violence disproportionately affects black children and families, adding to existing health inequalities.” southern eugenia, MD, MSHPBen., assistant professor of emergency medicine and college director of the Urban Health Laboratory. “This research underscores the need to develop public health interventions aimed at reducing children’s exposure to gun violence and relieving mental health symptoms associated with such exposure.”

The authors recommend a number of interventions that can help reduce community violence and mitigate the health effects of violence, such as safe gun storage and background check laws, as well as funding for mental health services and violence prevention programs. Additionally, they suggest that health systems can partner with community organizations to provide preventive and response support to children and families exposed to gun violence in the neighborhood, such as proactively reaching families of children known in the health system who live near the shooting in the days or weeks after the shooting Fire, to provide resources and support for mental health.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to missions related to medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of Raymond and Ruth Perlman of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the first medical college in the country) and University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form an $8.9 billion enterprise.

Perelman College of Medicine has been ranked among the best medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to US News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The school is consistently among the nation’s largest recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $496 million awarded in fiscal year 2020.

Patient care facilities in the University of Pennsylvania Health System include: University of Pennsylvania Hospital and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – recognized as one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by US News & World Report – Chester County Hospital; Lancaster Public Health; Penn Medicine, Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and institutions include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is operated by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 44,000 people. The organization also has alliances with the best community health systems in both southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, providing more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving life and health through a variety of community programs and activities. In fiscal year 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.

Leave a Comment