Citation(s) from the literature library

Miller, Matthew, Catherine Barber, Richard A. White and Deborah Azrael. 2013 ‘Firearms and Suicide in the United States - Materials and Methods.’ American Journal of Epidemiology; Vol. 178, No. 6, p. 947. Baltimore, MD: Oxford Journals / Oxford University Press. 23 August

Relevant contents

Materials and Methods…

State-level data on the percentage of individuals living in households with firearms (gun prevalence) were obtained from the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS); 2004 is the most recent year for which state-level estimates are available.(27)

The BRFSS, the world's largest telephone survey (with more than 200,000 adult respondents annually), is an ongoing data collection program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with all 50 states participating. A detailed description of the survey methods used by BRFSS is available elsewhere.(28–30). Briefly, trained interviewers collect data on a monthly basis by using an independent probability sample of households with telephones among the non institutionalized US population aged 18 years or older. All BRFSS questionnaires and data are available on the Internet (

Firearm ownership information was obtained by interviewers who began the firearm section of the survey by first informing respondents that "the next three questions are about firearms. We are asking these in a health survey because of our interest in firearm-related injuries. Please include weapons such as pistols, shotguns, and rifles; but not BB guns, starter pistols, or guns that cannot fire. Include those kept in a garage, outdoor storage area, or motor vehicle."

Presence of firearms in the home was assessed by asking respondents, "Are any firearms kept in or around your home?" Firearm prevalence estimates exclude respondents who did not know or refused to answer the BRFSS firearm questions. Firearm ownership prevalence data are also available from 2001 and 2002; the correlation between the 2004 state-level measures of firearm ownership and measures from 2002 and 2001 is nearly perfect (ρ = 0.98). In California, interviewers did not ask the household firearms question in 2004; we substituted the firearm prevalence estimate from the 2002 questionnaire.


27) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral risk factor surveillance system, 2004 survey data. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2005. (Accessed December 12, 2012).

28) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral risk factor surveillance system operational and user's guide, version 3.0. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2005. (Accessed November 11, 2012).

29) Mokdad AH, Stroup DF, Giles WH. Public health surveillance for behavioral risk factors in a changing environment: recommendations from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Team. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2003;52(RR09): 1–12.

30) Denny CH. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. In: Blumenthal DS, DiClemente RJ, eds. Community-Based Health Research: Issues and Methods. New York, New York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc; 2004: 115–131.

ID: Q8390

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