The Impact of Proximity to Health Care on the Lethality of Gun Violence

While fatal firearm related violence is an ongoing concern, nonfatal firearm related violence is just as, if not more concerning. Research has found that most individuals who are injured by gun violence survive and that cases of nonfatal injury are twice as prevalent as deaths from firearms. According to the John Hopkins Center for Gun Violence (formally the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), there are approximately 77,497 emergency department visits for gunshot wounds annually. Black men, specifically, have the highest rates of firearm-related hospitalization and firearm mortality. Research has found that victim survival from firearm-related injuries is often contingent on the speed and quality of care provided, and that victims who are shot farther from trauma centers have an increased likelihood of death. Another study assessing the mortality rates in following serious injury in Chicago found that geographic disparities in access to trauma care exist even within urban trauma systems.
This study seeks to contribute to this area of research by assessing the factors that contribute to lethality of gun violence and whether access to healthcare contributes to survival in the state of New Jersey. Specifically, it seeks to examine the individual and structural factors that may impact firearm injury survival and treatment. The aims of my study are to (1) explore whether proximity to a hospital and access to healthcare contributes to firearm injury mortality, and (2) whether there are any existing disparities in access to trauma care (i.e., the types of treatment and care received after firearm injury). This study is important given that researchers have found evidence if the existence of “trauma deserts” in urban cities and there is scarce existing research on the effect of distance to hospitals on firearm injury mortality in New Jersey. Nonfatal incidents of gun violence is concerning given the related trauma and its adverse effects on the physical and mental health and well-being of not only individuals but communities at large. Furthermore, assessing nonfatal firearm injury is necessary for the development effective strategies for firearm-related violence, prevention, and treatment. It is imperative to go beyond studying firearm deaths when developing and evaluating injury prevention initiatives. 

Funded By:
New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center

Project Status:
In progress

Principal Investigator (PI):
Arlana Henry, PhD, Andres Regifo, PhD

Amount Awarded: