WFB: The gun-injury estimate released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week is less reliable than it has been over the last 15 years.
This year’s estimate has a 39.1 percent coefficient of variation, which measures the amount of uncertainty in the estimate’s calculation. Given that variation, the CDC’s measure puts the number of gun injuries in 2017 at 133,895. But the number could actually be anywhere between 31,000 and 236,000. That gap is so large that many academics are now refusing to use the estimate in their work.
“When I looked at the 2017 numbers, I went, ‘Oh, my god,'” David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, told FiveThirtyEight. “You just can’t use those numbers.”
“I would not cite these estimates,” Guohua Li, editor in chief of the medical journal Injury Epidemiology and director of Columbia University’s Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, told the publication. “As an editor, I would not publish any manuscript that is based on these estimates.”
The data have only gotten worse over time. In 2016, the coefficient of variation was 30.6 percent. Back in 2001, it was at 22.1 percent. The variation may be due to the small sample size the CDC relies on. In 2017 they only surveyed 60 hospitals to determine the number of gun injuries in the United States.
The CDC said they recognize the problems with their gun-injury estimate but are exploring ways to improve it. more here