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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


McCrary, S Van, Jeffrey W. Swanson, Henry S. Perkins, and William J. Winslade. “Treatment decisions for terminally ill patients: physicians' legal defensiveness and knowledge of medical law.” Law Med Health Care 20, no. 4 (1992): 364–76.

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Swanson, J. W., and C. E. Holzer. “Violence and ECA data.” Hosp Community Psychiatry 42, no. 9 (September 1991): 954–55.

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Swanson, J. W., C. E. Holzer, V. K. Ganju, and R. T. Jono. “Violence and psychiatric disorder in the community: evidence from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area surveys.” Hosp Community Psychiatry 41, no. 7 (July 1990): 761–70.

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Swanson, J. W., C. E. Holzer, M. M. Canavan, and P. L. Adams. “Psychopathology and economic status in mother-only and mother-father families.” Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 20, no. 1 (1989): 15–24.

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Swartz, M. S., J. W. Swanson, H. R. Wagner, B. J. Burns, V. A. Hiday, and R. Borum. “Can involuntary outpatient commitment reduce hospital recidivism?: findings from a randomized trial with severely mentally ill individuals.” In Year Book of Psychiatry and Applied Mental Health 2001, n.d.


Swanson, J. W., M. S. Swartz, R. Borum, V. A. Hiday, H. R. Wagner, and B. J. Burns. “Involuntary outpatient commitment and reduction of violent behavior in persons with severe mental illness.” In Year Book of Psychiatry and Applied Mental Health, 2001, n.d.


Burris, Scott, Jeffrey W. Swanson, Kathryn Moss, Michael Darren Ullman, and Leah M. Ranney. “Justice Disparities: Does the ADA Enforcement System Treat People with Psychiatric Disabilities Fairly?,” n.d.