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News from the American College of Surgeons

For Immediate Release

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ACS Committee on Trauma awarded grant by National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research to identify individual and community level risk factors for non-lethal firearm injuries in the U.S.

New prospective multi-center study will utilize the infrastructure of the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program

CHICAGO (July 30, 2020): The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACS COT) has been awarded a 2-year, $711,218 grant by the National Collaborative for Gun Violence Research for a multi-center, prospective study to improve understanding of the individual and community level risk factors for non-lethal firearm injuries in the U.S.

This ACS COT study is among $7.5 million in grants announced by the Collaborative for 15 research projects that will produce evidence for improving gun policy in America. The grants build on a recent revival of gun violence research funding. In July 2019, the Collaborative awarded an initial round of $9.8 million to 17 research projects. Then, for the first time in more than 20 years, the federal government committed $25 million to support gun violence research at the end of 2019.

“Research has a critical role to play in informing evidence-based and effective firearms injury prevention strategies,” said Eileen Bulger, MD, FACS, Chair of the ACS COT and chief of trauma at Harborview Medical Center, Seattle. “We are excited to contribute to this new wave of firearm injury research, especially given the rigorous standards set by the Collaborative.”

The ACS COT study was selected from among 48 full proposals invited by the Collaborative after receiving 238 letters of interest responding to its proposal request.

“This study intends to fill a critical data gap in understanding the burden of non-lethal firearm injuries. That understanding includes contextual information, which is vital to inform actionable interventions to reduce these injuries,” said Dr. Bulger.

The prospective multi-center study will utilize the infrastructure of the ACS Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) to develop a nationally representative dataset of predominantly non-lethal firearm injuries, which will be used to better understand both individual and community level risk factors associated with non-lethal firearm injuries.

A nationally representative sample of ACS TQIP trauma centers will be recruited to collect and submit additional data elements in the categories of demographics, patient risk factors, circumstances of injury, and early functional outcome information. To optimize data quality, a detailed data dictionary will be developed, which will be accompanied by trauma registrar training, and a rigorous data validation protocol. The collected patient data will then be linked by zip code to community- and neighborhood-level indices and data sources to explore the association of injury and social determinants of health.

“This study intends to fill a critical data gap in understanding the burden of non-lethal firearm injuries. That understanding includes contextual information, which is vital to inform actionable interventions to reduce these injuries.” – Eileen Bulger, MD, FACS

“The American College of Surgeons is focused on efforts to help find solutions to this epidemic of firearm violence that continues to have dire consequences for our patients. The Collaborative’s funding for research to help identify risk factors is contributing to an important path forward. This study will provide valuable insights into community-level and individual risk factors related to non-lethal firearm injuries,” said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS.

“We selected these research projects based first and foremost on their scientific rigor,” said Frank M. Clark, chair of the Research Advisory Committee and past chair of the Chicago Board of Education. “That is the only way to generate the evidence necessary for informing policy that both protects the public and preserves the rights of responsible gun owners.”
Gun violence is one of the five leading causes of death among Americans aged 1-64 and yet, compared with other major causes of death and injury, the federal government has invested far less in research to prevent gun violence than for other leading causes of death.

Collaborative Director Andrew Morral noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, both sales of firearms and deaths from gun violence have increased across the country—underscoring the urgent need for rigorous research that can inform effective gun policy. “We must answer the question: What works and what doesn’t to reduce gun violence?” Morral said. “Studies like the ACS Committee on Trauma’s fill a critical gap in our understanding of gun violence and how to prevent it.”

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About the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research
The Collaborative funds rigorous scientific research with direct relevance to firearm-violence reduction in the United States. It was seeded with a $20 million gift from Arnold Ventures and has been supported by contributions from other organizations, including Wells Fargo, Missouri Foundation for Health, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. For more information, go to www.ncgvr.org.

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit www.facs.org.

About the ACS Committee on Trauma
Since its formation in 1922, the ACS Committee on Trauma (ACS COT) has put forth a continuous effort to improve care of injured patients before, during, and after hospitalization. Today trauma activities are administered through an 86-member committee overseeing a field force of more than 3,500 surgeons working to develop and implement meaningful programs for trauma care in local, regional, national, and international arenas.