Dissertation Award: The Effects of Culturally Competent Messaging on Willingness to Engage in Firearms Means Safety

Overview

This study investigates the impact of culturally competent messaging on gun owners’ willingness to adopt firearm safety measures, such as storing firearms securely.

Grant Amount: $25,000

Organization: University of Southern Mississippi

Doctoral Student: Sarah Butterworth, clinical psychology, University of Southern Mississippi

Expected Completion Date: Mid-2020

Project Summary

Purpose

Clarify whether culturally competent messaging increases the willingness of gun owners to adopt firearm safety measures, such as storing firearms securely, and whether factors like owners’ beliefs, past suicidal thinking and attitudes toward guns affect their willingness to adopt firearm safety measures.

Approach

  • Collect data from adult U.S. firearm owners via an online survey.
  • Use a study protocol consisting of:
    • Questions about respondents, their beliefs and firearm ownership.
    • Experimental manipulation in which participants are randomly assigned to read a standard or culturally competent messaging condition.
  • A follow-up online survey one month following initial study participation.

Significance

Research suggests that many gun owners do not store their firearms securely. Identifying safety messages that elicit engagement and improve safety practices could prevent a range of firearm injuries.

Doctoral Student

Sarah Butterworth, clinical psychology, University of Southern Mississippi. Butterworth’s research focuses on military/veteran suicide prevention and the role of firearms in suicide. Her clinical interests center on treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and management of suicide risk. During graduate school, she has worked in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, a psychological counseling program for non-violent felony offenders, and a VA PTSD clinic. She has also worked as a clinician and recruitment coordinator for a randomized controlled trial of lethal means counseling for National Guard personnel.