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Should Doctors Talk To Their Patients About Guns?

Some in the medical field say gun violence should be discussed as a public health issue.

After this month’s deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School, Texas is at the center of debates about how to prevent gun violence.

Some in the medical field say doctors should approach gun violence as a health issue, and even talk to patients about it that way.

There’s a growing focus in healthcare on addressing “social determinants of health,” things like poverty and housing problems that can prime people – children in particular – for poor health outcomes.

Ken Janda, CEO of the non-profit health insurer Community Health Choice, said talking to patients about gun violence could be like talking to teens about risks from drugs and sex.

“How do we make it okay for physicians to be able to talk to parents,” he said, “and sort of say, ‘do you have a gun in your house? Is it locked up? Is it safe? Are your kids able to get at it?'”

Some researchers experimenting with patient surveys to predict and prevent risky health factors are using those kinds of questions. Janda acknowledged this could be controversial, but he said it’s aimed at promoting more open discussion about gun violence as a public health problem.

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