Gun-related injuries and fatalities due to violence and suicide disproportionately impact two distinct groups: (1) African American boys and young men and (2) White American men. Current approaches to prevent gun injury are limited in their ability to reach those at highest risk, which may be due to the cultural disconnect between gun injury prevention strategies and the populations at greatest risk for violence and suicide. Bridging the cultural disconnect requires a deep understanding of social-ecological factors that underlie gun-related attitudes, behaviors, and practices. The primary aim of this project is to harness participatory action research to develop a cross-cutting, culturally grounded social-ecological model that describes factors underlying risky gun-related attitudes, behaviors, and practices, and to identify the acceptability of specific approaches to prevention. This mixed methods project has two specific aims.
Aim 1 is to identify (a) methods of gun access or acquisition, storage, and carrying; (b) motivations for gun access, ownership, storage practices, use, and carrying; (c) attitudes about ownership, storage safety, use, and carrying; d) acceptability of gun-focused prevention strategies, including factors that might influence engagement in those strategies; and (e) ideas for novel prevention strategies.
Aim 2 is to develop and validate a cross-cutting, social-ecological model in which individual, microsystemic, macrosystemic, and cultural factors predict gun-related attitudes, behaviors, and practices. This project consists of two phases. During Phase 1, we will conduct mixed methods research through in-depth interviews with 210 members of distinct populations at increased risk of urban gun violence or suicide. During Phase 2, we will quantitatively test the social-ecological model developed in Phase 1 by surveying (a) a local sample of 1200 youth in urban and rural contexts; and (b) a nationally representative sample of 2000 adults. The expected outcomes for this project are (1) a description of the scope of gun- related attitudes, behaviors, and practices among populations at greater risk for gun-related injury; (2) the identification of a range of novel risk and protective social-ecological factors associated with gun-related behaviors; and (3) an empirically validated, cross-cutting social-ecological model that explains gun-related attitudes, behaviors, and practices that place individuals at risk for gun-related injury. The proposed study is innovative in that integrates violence and suicide prevention research and uses a mixed methods participatory action research approach to bridge the divide between researchers and populations most at risk of intentional gun injuries. The results of this work will advance prevention science by creating a culturally grounded, social- ecological model that can guide research on risk and protective factors for intentional gun-related injuries and that will inform the development of ecologically valid, public health interventions. Ultimately, maximizing the reach of gun-related injury public health interventions is expected to reduce fatalities caused by violence and suicide. This proposal addresses Objective One and falls under Funding Option B of NOFO RFA-CE-20-006.

Public Health Relevance

Gun-related injury presents a major public health problem, accounting for the majority of deaths from violence and suicide. This project develops and tests a culturally grounded, social-ecological model that explains gun- related attitudes, behaviors, and practices associated with risk for violence and suicide. This model has the potential to reduce gun-related injuries and fatalities by maximizing the reach, ecological validity, and cultural relevance of public health prevention strategies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCE1)
Program Officer
Wright, Marcienne
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of South Alabama
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code