Association of Neighborhood Gun Violence with Mental-Health Related Pediatric ED Utilization

A recent study featuring PISC Senior Scholar and Internal Advisory Board Member Joel Fein, MD, MPH, Executive Committee Member Douglas Wiebe, PhD, and Senior Scholar Eugenia Catarina South, MD, MSPH, examines the impact neighborhood gun violence has on mental health-related pediatric Emergency Department (ED) utilization. 128,683 ED encounters of children living in Philadelphia were included. Results indicate that 54,341 children living in the affected shooting areas had one or more ED visits within 60 days of a neighborhood shooting. Of these children, 84.5% are Black, 78.1% of whom are insured by Medicaid. Children who live within 2-3 blocks of the shooting are more likely to present mental-health related conditions in the ED. Overall, exposure to neighborhood gun violence causes a decline in children’s acute mental health symptoms. The team concludes, “Policies aimed at reducing children’s exposure to neighborhood gun violence and mitigating the mental symptoms associated with gun violence must be a public health priority.”

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