Bindu Kalesan, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM, is the recipient of a three-year, $693,695 award from the U.S. Department of Justice to study “racial and ethnic differences in non-fatal firearm injuries using a spatiotemporal approach.” The goal is to understand the differences in risk factors associated with gun injuries in different regions of the country in order to tailor efforts to specific places to reduce them.
Although there has been much discussion both in scientific literature and the mainstream media about firearm deaths, much less attention has been paid to non-fatal firearm injury that constitutes 70 percent of the victims of firearm violence, who will continue to suffer from multiple health and social problems throughout their lives.
The epidemic of gun violence is in fact driven by the non-fatal injuries, which is rapidly increasing in the U.S. However, this increased burden of injury and subsequent diseases due to surviving gun violence is not consistent across population groups; particularly based on race and ethnicity. Gun violence survivorship burden is also not consistent across the country, with substantial spatial heterogeneity with differences at the state and county-level, which is itself changing over time.
According to Kalesan, what we do not know is perhaps much more important. “Centrally we do not understand the factors associated with the increase in non-fatal firearm injury, or the racial differences in these increasing rates and the spatial differences that are changing over time,” she explained.
Kalesan and Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, Robert A. Knox Professor and Boston University School of Public Health Dean plan to use a unique compilation of seven large national data sources across 25 years (1993 to 2017) and multi-level models with time-varying covariates to address the central question of racial-ethnic differences in non-fatal firearm injuries.