Key clinical point: Although many physician organizations support firearm regulation, their PACs donate more funds to candidates who oppose these policies.
Major finding: The 25 largest physician organization–affiliated PACs donated $5.6 million to 2016 candidates rated A by the National Rifle Association and $4.1 million to candidates with a lower rating.
Study details: A retrospective, cross-sectional study that compared contributions from the 25 largest physician organization–affiliated PACs during the 2016 election cycle to candidate support for firearm regulation.
Disclosures: The authors reported having no conflicts of interest.
Schuur JD et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Feb 22. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7831.
Though national membership organizations have finally taken a lead in advocating for firearm safety, this study from Schuur et al. illustrates the disconnect between physician PACs and the physicians themselves, according to Rebecca M. Cunningham, MD, Marc A. Zimmerman, PhD, and Patrick M. Carter, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The study comes in the wake of the NRA admonishing physicians to “stay in their lane,” which was met by a very vocal response via social and mass media. “Health care professionals demonstrated that, contrary to the NRA position, they have an undeniably central role and authority in addressing this public health problem through the direct care that they provide to patients and their families, prevention-based research, and advocacy for policy-level changes that make patients safer,” they wrote.
The coauthors noted the parallels to the American Medical Association previously calling for tobacco regulation while financially supporting politicians who felt otherwise. It’s a comparison that is meant as a cautionary tale; as more focus is placed on this particular issue, “medical PACs must consider the increasing physician voice on the need to address firearm-associated morbidity and mortality in the policy arena to reduce their experience with this issue in emergency bays, operating rooms, and clinics.”
Rebecca M. Cunningham, MD, Marc A. Zimmerman, PhD, and Patrick M. Carter, MD, are with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. They reported having no conflicts of interest. Their comments are adapted from an accompanying editorial (JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Feb 22. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7823 ).