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Disconnect: The gap between gun violence and research in numbers

bullets-1613241_1920-2Gun violence is much discussed but little studied, largely due to federal decisions governing research funding. A new analysis highlights just how big the gap between the violence and our knowledge of it is. The answer? It's huge.

Between 2004 and 2014, gun violence in the United States killed about the same number of people as liver disease, sepsis, and hypertension, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, as compared with other leading causes of death, gun violence received only 1.6 percent of the amount of research funding and produced only 4.5 percent of the publications, according to a research letter in this week's JAMA from David Stark, MD, a Mount Sinai data scientist and physician, and Stanford's Nigam Shah, MBBS, PhD, assistant director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics Research.

That's a gap of 37,159 articles that weren't completed during that time period. And that got me thinking: What might we know now if that research had been completed?

Last summer, a Vox article tackled that very question, developing a list of seven jumping off questions to spur research. They are:

  • How are guns used?
  • Who are the victims of gun violence?
  • What state laws work to reduce gun violence?
  • Where do people acquire the guns used in violent crimes?
  • Can the number of suicides by gun be reduced?
  • How are media violence and actual violence related?

I'd imagine you can think of a few research questions of your own. Finding funding to answer them, though, might be a tad bit tricky.

Previously: Study: ER statistics could be used to help reduce gun violenceA Stanford resident explains why he asks every mental health patient about guns and Gun safety addressed by editorials in three JAMA journals
Photo by Brett_Hondow

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