Hospital-Based GRIPS Helps Community Reduce Gun Violence
By Melinda Young
The Gunshot Reoccurring Injury Prevention Service (GRIPS) is a hospital-based intervention program that offers case management and social support to firearm assault survivors.1
GRIPS works to prevent firearm assault re-injury and criminal involvement. It is part of the Community Violence Prevention Project at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.
“This gives patients someone to talk to and gives them support in navigating their changes after a gun injury,” says Rafael Tamargo, MD, MBA, fourth-year psychiatry resident at Western Psychiatric Hospital and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh. “We were lucky to have GRIPS at the public health school, run by a guy named Richard Garland. We worked with him on establishing this peer network of people who had recovered from gunshot injury.”
This gives patients someone to talk to. It supports them in navigating the changes after an injury. “We offer GRIPS as a peer support, a one-on-one support that patients can reach out to and say, ‘I am feeling really anxious,’ or ‘I’m having flashbacks and have trouble sleeping because I’m thinking about the events,’” Tamargo explains. “We found that with all the physical treatment patients were getting, and seeking out mental health support, that patients were more comfortable having a peer they could talk with more casually about these things than having to go to a psychiatrist office. GRIPS provides peer support, but if someone is developing severe symptoms of PTSD, then they can get them connected to a mental health professional.”
The peer support program collects data longitudinally, tracking patients over months and years. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to collect a lot of information about what happens to people in the years following a gunshot injury,” Tamargo says. “They’ll track things like when people develop symptoms of a mental illness, the sort of treatment they get referred to, and what sort of things seem to help.”
Not much is known about what happens to a person’s mental health after gunshot injuries. “We’re optimistic about what we’ll learn from this,” Tamargo says.
- University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. Violence Prevention Initiative. 2020.
The Gunshot Reoccurring Injury Prevention Service (GRIPS) is a hospital-based intervention program that offers case management and social support to firearm assault survivors.
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