Jeffrey W. Swanson
Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Jeffrey Swanson is Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. He is a faculty affiliate of the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law School, the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School, and the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke Sanford School of Public Policy. Swanson holds a PhD in sociology from Yale University. He is a social scientist researcher who collaborates across disciplines to build evidence for interventions, policies and laws to improve outcomes for adults with serious mental illnesses in the community, and to reduce firearm-related violence and suicide. He is an author of over 240 publications on subjects including the social environmental context of violence in mental illness, implementation of state firearm restrictions related to mental health adjudications, effectiveness of involuntary outpatient commitment, and psychiatric advance directives. Swanson lead the research group that published the first empirical evaluations of risk-based, temporary firearm removal laws in Indiana and Connecticut, precursors to Extreme Risk Protection Order laws that were later adopted in many states. He received the 2020 Isaac Ray Award from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law for outstanding contributions to the psychiatric aspects of jurisprudence. He received the 2011 Carl Taube Award from the American Public Health Association for outstanding contributions to mental health services research. Swanson serves on the Executive Steering Committee of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. He previously served as a member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment and the Methods Core of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Public Health Research Program. He has delivered numerous endowed lectures including the P. Browning Hoffman Memorial Lecture in Law and Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Law; the Raymond W. Waggoner Lecture on Ethics and Values in Medicine at the University of Michigan; the Paul Mendelsohn, MD, Memorial Lecture in Psychiatry and the Law at the Tufts School of Medicine; the Sherwood B. Winslow, MD, Distinguished Lecture at the Battle Creek Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan; and the L. Douglas Lenkoski, MD, Lecture in Community Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Swanson frequently comments on gun violence in the national media and serves as a consultant to policymakers at the federal and state levels.

Current Research Interests

 Epidemiology of serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders in adult community-based populations
 Violent behavior and mental illness in social-environmental context
 Public health law approaches to reducing firearm violence and suicide
 Legal leverage in community treatment for adults with severe mental illness
 Psychiatric advance directives for adults with serious mental illnesses
 Effectiveness of involuntary outpatient commitment
 Mental illness and criminal justice policy
 Discrimination, law, and policy affecting persons with psychiatric disabilities

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • Box 3071 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710
  • Brightleaf Sq Ste 23A, 905 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

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