Client Firearm Assessment and Safety Counseling: The Role of Social Workers

Ohio University, Zanesville, OH 43701, USA.
Social work (Impact Factor: 1.15). 11/2008; 53(4):358-66. DOI: 10.1093/sw/53.4.358
Source: PubMed


Firearms constitute an environmental risk factor for suicide among all age groups. Although other professions have been urged to assess firearm availability and advocate for the removal of firearms of their clients, little is known about the practices and the techniques within the social work profession. The present study surveyed a random sample (N = 697) of Ohio licensed social workers (requiring a BSW) and Ohio licensed independent social workers (requiring an MSW and 3,000 hours of post-master's practice experience) on their attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding client firearm assessment and safety counseling. Findings indicated that the majority of social workers in this study did not report assessing for firearms or counseling on firearm safety on a routine basis. Barriers included lack of training on risks, lack of risk awareness, discomfort with the topic, not social work responsibility, lack of time, and more important topics to discuss. The most influential variable positively related to firearm assessment and counseling behaviors among these social workers was reporting previous firearm safety training. Other variables included influential media, depressed client, and suicidal client.

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