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Jeffrey W. Swanson, MA, PhD

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Child & Family Mental Health & Community Psychiatry
Office: Brightleaf Sq Ste 23A, 905 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701
Campus Mail: DUMC Box 3071 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710

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.

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University, 1985
  • M.A., Yale University, 1980

In the News

Selected Grants


Swartz, Marvin S., and Jeffrey W. Swanson. “Randomised controlled trials and outpatient commitment.” Lancet Psychiatry 4, no. 12 (December 2017): e30.

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Swanson, Jeffrey W. “Alternative Perspectives on Police Encounters and Psychotic Experiences [Invited Commentary on DeVylder et al, "Psychotic Experiences in the Context of Police Victimization"].” Schizophr Bull 43, no. 5 (September 1, 2017): 946–48.

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Easter, Michele M., Jeffrey W. Swanson, Allison G. Robertson, Lorna L. Moser, and Marvin S. Swartz. “Facilitation of Psychiatric Advance Directives by Peers and Clinicians on Assertive Community Treatment Teams.” Psychiatr Serv 68, no. 7 (July 1, 2017): 717–23.

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Swartz, Marvin S., Sayanti Bhattacharya, Allison G. Robertson, and Jeffrey W. Swanson. “Involuntary Outpatient Commitment and the Elusive Pursuit of Violence Prevention.” Can J Psychiatry 62, no. 2 (February 2017): 102–8.

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Swanson, J. W., M. A. Norko, H. J. Lin, K. Alanis-Hirsch, L. K. Frisman, M. V. Baranoski, M. M. Easter, A. G. Robertson, M. S. Swartz, and R. J. Bonnie. “Implementation and effectiveness of connecticut's risk-based gun removal law: Does it prevent suicides?” Law and Contemporary Problems 80, no. 2 (January 1, 2017): 179–208.


Swanson, Jeffrey. “Mental Illness, Release From Prison, and Social Context.” Jama 316, no. 17 (November 1, 2016): 1771–72.

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Elbogen, Eric B., Robert M. Hamer, Jeffrey W. Swanson, and Marvin S. Swartz. “A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Money Management Intervention for Veterans With Psychiatric Disabilities.” Psychiatr Serv 67, no. 10 (October 1, 2016): 1142–45.

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Swanson, Jeffrey W. “On Thoughts, Threats, and Throwing the Spear.” Schizophr Bull 42, no. 4 (July 2016): 883–84.

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Swanson, Jeffrey W., Michele M. Easter, Allison G. Robertson, Marvin S. Swartz, Kelly Alanis-Hirsch, Daniel Moseley, Charles Dion, and John Petrila. “Gun Violence, Mental Illness, And Laws That Prohibit Gun Possession: Evidence From Two Florida Counties.” Health Aff (Millwood) 35, no. 6 (June 1, 2016): 1067–75.

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Swanson, Jeffrey W., Richard J. Bonnie, and Paul S. Appelbaum. “Firearm Access and Risk of Suicide--Reply.” Jama 315, no. 19 (May 17, 2016): 2124–25.

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