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Am J Epidemiol. 1990 Jun;131(6):1080-4.

Validating survey responses to questions about gun ownership among owners of registered handguns.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis 38103.


While survey-based data on firearm ownership are essential for epidemiologic studies of the relation between gun ownership and injuries, the validity of respondent answers to questions about gun ownership has not been confirmed. In order to assess the accuracy of interview data about firearms, in June to August 1987, the authors attempted to contact residents of 75 homes in the cities of Memphis, Tennessee and Seattle, Washington listed as the address of the owner of a recently registered handgun. Despite problems with inaccurate registration data, contact was ultimately made with 55 households, 35 of which consented to a general interview that included a series of questions about gun ownership. Respondents in 31 of these 35 households (88.6%) readily acknowledged that one or more guns were kept in their home. Respondents in three of the remaining four households (8.6%) stated that guns were recently kept in their homes but were no longer kept there. Only one respondent (2.9%) denied categorically that guns of any kind were kept in her home. The authors conclude that, at least among registered gun owners, respondent answers to questions about gun ownership are generally valid and that survey data of this type can be utilized with confidence.

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