Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Parents who get gun safety information from physicians are more likely to ask whether there are guns in the homes of friends and relatives where their children play, according to a new study to be presented Monday.
The Asking Saves Kids campaign, a collaboration between Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics, conducted the study to see if its messaging works.
The study, which will be presented Monday at the academy's national conference in Chicago, was conducted by ASK in a neighborhood in the South Bronx of New York known for high rates of gun violence.
"Families we interviewed overwhelmingly told us that they wanted their pediatricians to provide this information to them," Dr. Nina Agrawal, a pediatrician at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and NYC Health and Hospitals/Coney Island, said in a press release.
Roughly 9 percent of participants reported knowing someone who was the victim of gun violence.
"It's stunning to note that 9 percent of the children whose families were involved in this study knew a victim of gun violence, which shows how common this health crisis is in communities of need," Agrawal said. "Pediatricians should engage their patients and families in conversations about this important topic so that parents know that they can and should be asking about gun safety."
The AAP recommends that doctors and healthcare providers discuss gun safety with families as part of routine injury prevention similar to discussions about child safety seats, sleeping positions for infants and safety around water.
Only 11 percent of parents and caregivers said a doctor provided gun safety information to them and 96 percent said they wanted doctors to provide that information.
Researchers discussed gun safety with families, gave tips on how to have the conversation and handed out a brochure on gun safety.
The study found that prior to receiving ASK education in the healthcare setting, only 8 percent of parents asked about guns in the home where their child played. However, after receiving the ASK education, the number of parents who reported feeling comfortable about asking about guns jumped to 85 percent.
"Gun violence is a public health epidemic in the United States, but a simple question or short conversation about gun safety can protect children from this danger," Agrawal said. "This study shows us that parents are far more likely to ask about guns in a home before a playdate if they feel empowered by their pediatricians to do so, and asking can save precious young lives."