People who survive gunshot wounds have a high risk of being the victim of a firearm again, according to a study conducted by the University of Washington. Researchers also found the victims were more likely to commit crimes and more likely to ultimately die from gunshot wounds.
The researchers with University of Washington's School of Public Health and Harborview Injury Prevention identified nearly 700 trauma patients with gunshot injuries. They then spent the next six years tracking them using hospital and arrest records. They also followed 70,000 patients hospitalized for non-firearm injuries.
Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, assistant professor of epidemiology, said the findings show that gunshot survivors were four times more likely to die from firearms than other patients, 21 times more likely to be hospitalized for a subsequent gun injury and four times more likely to be hospitalized for a subsequent gun injury. By contrast, Rowhani-Rahbar said, victims of other types of assaults were only three times more likely to become hospitalized for gunshot wounds.
"Some of the numbers are just staggering," the lead researcher said in a press release.
The study was published Feb. 23 in the "Annals of Internal Medicine."
Next, researchers plan to analyze what types of interventions are most effective in reducing repeat gun violence.
The research project was funded by the Seattle City Council and UW's Research Royalty Fund. Rowhani-Rahbar says funding for such projects has been difficult to come by because Congress has sought to limit federal funds going to research that could be seen as advocating for gun control.
In a press release, Rowhani-Rahbar stressed the research was not about restricting gun ownership, but about “harm reduction and saving lives.”