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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington: Neighborhoods Where People Live are Not Necessarily Where They are Shot

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health has found that nearly three-quarters of firearm injuries and deaths in Seattle and King County, Washington, occurred beyond the immediate area surrounding a victim’s home.

Previous research has found that assaults involving a firearm are clustered in ‘hotspots’ within particular neighborhoods or cities, which has implications for the individuals who live in those areas. Using the same methodology, Dr. Brianna Mills, a doctoral graduate from the school’s Department of Epidemiology, found that more injuries happened in certain neighborhoods to people who don’t live there than to the residents of that area.

When residential addresses are used as proxies for injury location regardless of how geographically accurate they may be, it introduces bias to the data, according to Dr. Mills, now a research scientist at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. This could possibly lead to an underestimation of firearm assaults in those areas.

Published in the journal Injury Prevention, this brief report examines the potential degree of misclassification resulting from using residence location as a stand-in for injury location, and how missing location data is associated with other known factors, such as homelessness.

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