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Psychosocial well-being and firearm storage practices: evidence from five US states.

OBJECTIVE: Gun safety practices can play a pivotal role in preventing suicide and unintentional injuries involving a firearm. This study aimed to assess whether psychosocial well-being, measured by emotional support, feeling of social isolation and life satisfaction, influenced safe storage practices among individuals who had firearms in or around their home.

METHODS: Data are from the firearm safety module of the 2022 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System survey of 11 722 individuals having firearms and living in California, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. Respondents were asked to identify how guns were stored in their homes including: (1) not loaded, (2) loaded but locked and (3) loaded and unlocked. Multinomial logistic regression models with controls for sociodemographic correlates assess the relative risks of certain storage measures.

RESULTS: Relative to the base outcome of not loaded, the adjusted relative risks of having firearms loaded and unlocked among individuals who usually/always felt socially isolated were 1.72 (95% CI: 1.02 to 2.88) times that of individuals who never felt socially isolated. The adjusted risks among individuals who were dissatisfied with their life were 1.82 (95% CI: 1.02 to 3.24) times that of their counterparts who were very satisfied. The adjusted risks were not statistically significant among individuals who rarely/never received needed emotional support compared with individuals who always received support.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest a strong relationship between social isolation and life satisfaction and safe storage practices at home. Policies designed to improve psychosocial well-being, therefore, may present an important opportunity for preventing unintentional firearm injuries.

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