A Social Marketing Intervention to Prevent Drowning Among Inner-City Youth

Health Promot Pract. 2018 Mar;19(2):175-183. doi: 10.1177/1524839917732559. Epub 2017 Sep 27.


Background: Water-related injuries and fatalities pose serious public health issues, especially to African American youth, a demographic group that drowns at disproportionately high rates.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to determine if a social marketing intervention targeting the parents and guardians of inner-city youth (U.S. Midwest) could positively influence their perceptions concerning water safety.

Method: Researchers employed a quasi-experimental design using matched pairs to evaluate the intervention. Participants consisted of parents who enrolled their children in a six-session survival-swimming course. Guided by the Health Belief Model, the researchers disseminated six prevention messages using six different channels (brochure, e-mail, SMS text message, postcard, Facebook, and window cling).

Results: The findings from a two-way analysis of covariance revealed that treatment group participants' knowledge and perceptions of water-related threat all changed favorably. Additionally, all participants planned to reenroll their children in swim lessons.

Discussion: A social marketing campaign using the Health Belief Model improved inner-city parents' knowledge regarding water safety and enhanced their self-efficacy.

Conclusion: This study provides practitioners with feasible strategies (prevention messages) to supplement swim lessons, with the ultimate goal of preventing drowning among at-risk youth.

Keywords: at-risk; children; drowning; prevention; youth.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cities
  • Drowning / prevention & control*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States
  • Program Evaluation
  • Social Marketing*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires