Veterans are agreeable to discussions about firearms safety in primary care

Summer Newell, Emily Kenyon, Khaya D. Clark, Victoria Elliott, Annabelle Rynerson, Martha S. Gerrity, Elizabeth Karras, Joseph A. Simonetti, Steven K. Dobscha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Discussing safe storage of firearms, including access, during times of crisis with veterans in primary care settings may enhance suicide prevention efforts. However, veteran attitudes toward such discussions are not well understood. The goal of this study is to understand the perspectives of veterans on discussing firearms storage safety with staff during primary care visits. Methods: Individual semistructured interviews with veterans were conducted by telephone, qualitatively coded, and analyzed for themes. The sample was composed of veterans (n = 27) who had positive depression or post-traumatic stress disorder screens and who received care from Veterans Health Administration primary care team members trained to discuss firearms storage safety with patients. Results: Citing the urgent need to prevent veteran suicide, most veterans felt discussing firearms safety was acceptable and needed, even if discussions felt uncomfortable or they had concerns. Veterans identified the need for providers to be transparent in their purposes for asking about firearms and to respect veterans' unique relationships with firearms. Discussion: Conducting firearms safety discussions in a primary care setting with veterans who are at elevated risk for suicide is acceptable to veterans when a respectful, veteran-centered, and transparent approach is used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Depression
  • Firearms
  • Interview
  • Mental Health
  • Military Medicine
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
  • Primary Health Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Suicide
  • Veterans Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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