AJPH May 2018 Highlights

Date: May 17 2018

AJPH publishes new research on the gun owning population, gun owner policy opinions, suicide risk among gun owners, Syrian refugee mental health, HPV vaccine follow-through and indoor tanning laws 

CONTACT: To request copies of articles or for information on scheduling interviews with an expert, please contact Megan Lowry. 

American Journal of Public Health July Issue research highlights:

Gun ownership: Differences between new and long-standing gun owners

This study found new gun owners represented 10 percent of all current U.S. adult gun owners. In addition to being younger than long-standing gun owners, new gun owners were more likely to be liberal, own fewer guns, own handguns, own guns only for protection and store guns in a safe manner.

This study also revealed:

  • 9.5 percent of current U.S. adult gun owners were new gun owners in 2015
  • Although 36 percent of new gun owners identified as moderate and 45 percent of long-standing owners identified as conservative, 27 percent of new gun owners identify as liberal
  • New and long-standing gun owners did not differ statistically across most characteristics including gender, race, region, urbanicity, marital status
  • New gun owners reported owning fewer guns than did long-standing gun owners
  • New gun owners were more likely than long-standing gun owners to own only handguns
  • Protection was the most frequently reported reason for owning a gun among both new and long-standing gun owners.

Authors concluded that the changing demographics and behaviors of the gun-owning population shows medical guidelines that recommend assessing household firearm ownership status and suicide risk should be changed, so that clinicians are encouraged to ask patients about changes in gun ownership.

[Author Contact: Matthew Miller, Professor of Health Sciences and Epidemiology, Northeastern University, Co-Director, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. “Differences Between New and Long-Standing US Gun Owners: Results From a National Survey”].

Majority of gun owners and non-gun owners support gun violence prevention laws

Large majorities of both gun owners and non–gun owners strongly support measures to strengthen U.S. gun laws. The results of this national public opinion survey, conducted in January 2017, showed that for 23 of the 24 gun violence prevention policies asked about in the survey, most respondents supported restricting or regulating gun ownership. Only 8 of 24 policies had greater than a 10-point support gap between gun owners and non–gun owners.

Policies with high public support and minimal support gaps by gun ownership status included universal background checks, greater accountability for licensed gun dealers unable to account for their inventory, higher safety training standards for concealed carry permit holders, improved reporting of records related to mental illness for background checks, gun prohibitions for persons subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders and gun violence restraining orders.

[Author Contact: Colleen L. Barry, Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. " Public Support for Gun Violence Prevention Policies Among Gun Owners and Non–Gun Owners in 2017."].

Increased suicide risk among gun owners not attributable to differences in mental health

This study found that firearm owners have the same rate of mental health indicators as people living in households without guns, suggesting that increased suicide risks among firearm owners is not attributable to their mental health. Researchers found no difference in the mental health status of owners who stored their gun locked and unloaded, and those who did not. Binge and chronic alcohol use were somewhat more prevalent among adults from firearm-owning households.

Researchers concluded that variability in mental health does not explain the substantial increased suicide risk among individuals in firearm-owning households

[Author Contact: Erin R. Morgan, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. "Firearm Ownership, Storage Practices, and Suicide Risk Factors in Washington State, 2013–2016."].

Mental disorders highly prevalent among Syrian refugees

This study revealed mental disorders are highly prevalent in both Syrian refugees living in Turkey and internally displaced persons in Syria. Research showed that major depressive disorder was more frequent among refugees in Turkey than among internally displaced persons in Syria; other mental disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder, were more prevalent in the latter than in the former. Posttraumatic stress disorder was also associated with post migration factors. Major depressive disorder was more likely among refugees in Turkey. In addition, the likelihood of major depressive disorder was predicted by stopping somewhere else before resettlement in the current location.

Authors concluded that the resettlement locus and the context and type of displacement seem to be important determinants of mental health disorders, with post migration factors being stronger predictors of conflict-related mental health.

[Author Contact: Sidika Tekeli-Yesil, PhD, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Department of Medicine, Clinical Research Unit, Basel, Switzerland. "Determinants of Mental Disorders in Syrian Refugees in Turkey Versus Internally Displaced Persons in Syria."].

Fewer patients following through on HPV vaccine series

Although HPV vaccine initiation is improving over time, only 45 percent of women complete the series within 1 year of initiation. This study also found HPV vaccine follow-through has declined over time. The rate of female patients who received the third dose within one year of the first fell from 67 percent in 2006 to 38 percent in 2014. Positive predictors of timely follow-through included receipt of flu vaccine in the prior year and receipt of first HPV vaccine dose from an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Females initiating the vaccine in 2006 had high rates of follow-through (66.8 percent), which declined sharply each year in 2007 (59 percent), 2008 (50.8 percent), and 2009 (42.1 percent). This decline slowed, but continued, after 2010, reaching a low of 38.2 percent in 2014.

[Author Contact: Jennifer C. Spencer, Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. " Predictors of Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Follow-Through Among Privately Insured US Patients "].

Age restriction laws can reduce indoor tanning by nearly 50 percent

This research found that age restriction laws were associated with a 47 percent lower indoor tanning prevalence among female high school students. Parental permission laws were not found to be associated with indoor tanning prevalence. These findings suggest that age restriction laws could contribute to less indoor tanning, reducing the burden of skin cancer.

[Author Contact: Jin Qin, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. "State Indoor Tanning Laws and Prevalence of Indoor Tanning Among US High School Students, 2009–2015 "].

Find a full list of AJPH research papers published online May 17, 4 p.m. ET below:

  • Critical Reflexivity Of Communities On Their Experience To Improve Population Health
  • Timely, Granular, And Actionable: Informatics In The Public Health 3.0 Era
  • Five Years After Newtown: Public Support For Gun Violence Prevention Policies Among Gun Owners And Non-Gun Owners
  • Medical Countermeasure Comics: Visualizing A Public Health Emergency Response
  • Save 100,000 Babies: The 1918 Children's Year And Its Legacy
  • AIDS, Sexual Health and the Catholic Church in 1980s' Ireland: A Public Health Paradox?
  • A Comparative Study: Mental Disorders among Syrian Refugees In Turkey And Internally Displaced People In Syria And Factors Affecting Them.
  • Firearm Ownership And Storage Practices In Relation To Suicide Risk Factors: An Analysis Of Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data
  • ACA Impact In Kentucky: Increasing Access, Reducing Disparities
  • Differences Between New And Long-Standing Gun Owners: Results From A National Survey
  • The Association Between State Indoor Tanning Laws And Adolescent Indoor Tanning
  • Predictors Of HPV Vaccine Follow-Through Among Privately Insured Patients
  • Risk And Protective Factors For Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Systematic Review And Meta-Analyses Of Prospective-Longitudinal Studies

The articles above were published online May 17, 2018, at 4 p.m. ET by AJPH under “First Look.”

“First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. AJPH is published by the American Public Health Association, and is available at www.ajph.org.

Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Megan Lowry at APHA. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal's Subscriptions Department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single-issue access is $30, and online single-article access is $22 at www.ajph.org. For direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email us.

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The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession, promote best practices and share the latest public health research and information. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Learn more at www.apha.org.