Kaiser Permanente earmarks $25M for gun violence prevention research, collaboration

Kaiser Permanente has unveiled a five-year, $25 million commitment and new partnership that will scale up its research and community-based work into gun violence prevention.

The investment—announced during a gathering of healthcare leaders, gun safety advocates and researchers—will support the Center for Gun Violence Research and Education that was established by the organization last summer. It was initially funded with $1.3 million to explore and collaborate on possible gun violence prevention strategies in collaboration with other nonprofit partners.

The long-term commitment will now allow the center to ramp up and expand its research, education and community initiatives, which include hospital-based violence intervention programs, Kaiser Permanente said.

“As the leading health care organization serving the health needs of more than 12 million people in America, Kaiser Permanente is compelled to find and implement solutions to gun violence,” Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente chair and CEO, said in the announcement. “While our teams treat the physical wounds, the disabilities, and the psychological aftermath of gun violence on a daily basis, the best possible outcome of our work would be to learn how to prevent gun-related injuries in the first place.”

The center’s “next phase of work” will also include a new partnership with the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (HAVI), a program founded in 2009 by social change nonprofit Health Resources in Action. The program fosters a network of hospital-community partnerships across 85 U.S. cities and convenes and supports research on gun violence.

“We seek to lead a center that authentically engages institutional and community partners to conduct rigorous science and implement evidence-informed, health-based strategies that effectively address the brutal epidemic of violence,” HAVI Executive Director Fatimah Loren Dreier said in a release. “Through this partnership, we will advance a powerful vision for racial equity that centers the wisdom and ingenuity of communities of color.”

David Grossman, M.D., vice president for social health and equity at Kaiser Permanente, told Fierce Healthcare that the organization has so far undertaken “several” gun violence research studies and firearm screening tool tests, an example of which was published last fall in JAMA Health Forum.

Among the system’s other successes are the first-ever Hospital-based Violence Intervention Program, implemented in Oakland, California and now slated for broader scaling with the new funds, and a study in which pediatricians discussed safe gun storage with parents during routine check-ups, which follow-up surveys suggested were well received by the families.

“This is an evolving field of research and results from a number of studies have demonstrated significant reductions in violence recidivism and trends toward positive social outcomes,” Grossman said.

Grossman said that the center’s focus on education and partnerships will allow the organization to disseminate its findings beyond Kaiser Permanente’s communities.

“We are firmly committed to sharing best practices and research findings, and are regularly convening stakeholders in this space (including [Thursday]’s event in Washington, D.C.) in order to catalyze action and spread learnings as widely as possible,” he said. “We view gun violence as a public health crisis and believe that progress achieved in this area by anyone benefits everyone. Our partnerships and grant-giving to organizations throughout this space also serve this goal.”

Kaiser Permanente’s funding announcement comes days after two mass shootings in its home state of California led to at least 16 deaths, per media reports.