Stories about: community health

New study finds gun laws save lives: Q & A with lead author


Firearm legislation is a contentious issue in this country. But researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital hope their new study may help shed some light on the topic. The narrative review, published in the November 14 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine found that stronger firearm laws are associated with reductions in firearm homicide rates.

Notes sat down with lead author Lois Lee, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Emergency Medicine and Harvard Medical School to discuss the study’s findings and the implications of firearm safety on pediatric practice.

Q: What was the main takeaway of your study?

Lee: Overall, we found evidence that stronger firearm laws are associated with decreased homicides due to firearms. We grouped the laws into five general categories:

  • Laws that strengthened background checks
  • Laws that curbed firearm trafficking
  • Laws that improved child safety, including child access laws, laws requiring trigger mechanisms, and laws that imposed age restrictions for gun purchases and use
  • Laws banning military-style assault weapons
  • Laws restricting firearms in public places

Specifically, the laws that seemed to have the most effect were those that strengthened background checks and those that required a permit to purchase a firearm. …Read More

Project LAUNCH: Promoting positive mental health in the very young

project launch photo shutterstock_429711796

On a recent unexceptional night, a five-year-old girl hears gunshots from her bedroom. She freezes. It may be the first time she has heard that sound, or maybe the second. She starts to avoid her bedroom and fear bedtime. The girl’s mother reports to the pediatrician that her daughter is throwing tantrums and can’t sleep through the night.

“The reality is that young children are  profoundly psychologically affected by issues such as violence in the community and at home, housing insecurity and homelessness – especially when those issues affect their parents in particular,” says Emily Fischer, LICSW, director of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) at Boston Children’s Primary Care at Martha Eliot.

…Read More

Training doctors to be patient advocates

Boston urban housing community health medical education residency
Keystone residents get to know the communities and resources available in areas where their patients live, such as this triple-decker lined street in Boston. (Piotrus/Wikimedia Commons)

On a cool morning in September, a shuttle bus full of first year pediatric medical residents pulls up alongside a curb in Dorchester, one of the poorest areas of Boston. The doctors disembark and disperse in groups of twos and threes. They’re not making house calls or working in an area clinic. They have an appointment with housing court.

The residents are starting their “Keystone Quarter,” an innovative twelve week program launched by the Boston Combined Residency Program (BCRP) in July 2013. Keystone combines three previously distinct rotations—adolescent medicine, developmental/behavioral pediatrics and advocacy—into a single three-month block. Content from each discipline is broken up and spread out longitudinally; instead of spending four weeks each on advocacy, behavioral health and adolescent medicine, residents experience segments of all three curricula every week for twelve weeks. …Read More

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