Physicians Can Help Violence-Prevention Efforts

July 11, 2008

An office-based intervention by primary care physicians can contribute to violence-prevention efforts by reducing children's media exposure and improving safe storage of firearms, researchers report in the July issue of Pediatrics.

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- An office-based intervention by primary care physicians can contribute to violence-prevention efforts by reducing children's media exposure and improving safe storage of firearms, researchers report in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Shari L. Barkin, M.D., of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues conducted a study of 137 pediatric practices, which were randomized to recruit patients to an office-based violence-prevention intervention or to a control group presented with a handout on literacy promotion. The intervention entailed a survey of patient-family behavior and parents' concerns about exposure to firearms, use of media and strategies for discipline. They also gave parents instructions on using timers to monitor access to media and timeouts, and to point families in the direction of local resources for anger management where necessary.

After six months, families in the intervention group self-reported safer storage of firearms and a reduction of time using media to less than 120 minutes a day, the researchers report. The intervention did not affect the use of timeouts as a discipline measure, the investigators found.

"The findings suggest that the current schedule of pediatric well-child visits provides a platform for effective preventive innovations," the authors conclude. "Finding the best means for translating this evidence-based approach into practice on a large scale is a logical next step."

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