Placement: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Mentor: David Hemenway, Ph.D., Professor of Health Policy, Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center
Project: Investing in Health and Social Services to Reduce Firearm Mortality
Vageesh Jain, MBBS, M.P.H., MFPH, is a 2023–24 U.K. Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. He is a public health physician currently working as a health adviser at the UK Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office. Jain is interested in the role of health systems in addressing social determinants of health, and the impact of hospital-based community prevention programs, such as those used for violent injury. Jain has previously worked in hospitals, local and central government health departments, and at the UK Health Security Agency where he continues on the health protection rota to respond to outbreaks of infectious disease. Jain completed an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship at University College London in 2021, where he developed an interest in using econometric research methods to answer public health policy questions. He has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and was awarded the Bennett Prospect Prize 2019/20 from the University of Cambridge for his proposal on a UK Food and Beverage Industry Levy (FBIL). Jain earned his medical degree (MBBS) from King’s College London and was awarded the prize for the highest marks in his master’s in public health (M.P.H.). He holds a nonresident fellowship at the Center for Global Development and Membership of the UK Faculty of Public Health (MFPH).
Project Overview: Gun violence is a major cause of premature death in the United States. Firearms caused 45,222 deaths and twice as many nonfatal injuries in 2020, overtaking road-traffic accidents as the leading cause of trauma-related death. Despite the deadly tally, federal funding for gun violence research has been limited historically.
Following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022, Congress passed the most significant firearms legislation in nearly 30 years. It proposes “major investments” in mental health services, including suicide prevention and crisis intervention. Hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) are also becoming more popular, and use health care attendance as a golden opportunity to address root causes of injury-related admission and reduce reattendance. There are currently 44 hospital-based violence intervention programs in the United States and 38 in the United Kingdom, providing a concrete example of how integrated care systems are attempting to bring prevention and cure closer together.
Health and social service investment represents a practical bipartisan opportunity to address firearm mortality, but the impact of such investment is poorly understood. This work will employ quasi-experimental techniques to estimate the value of such services in preventing firearm homicide and suicide. A discrete choice experiment will then be used to understand how HVIPs can be better designed to meet the needs of service users.