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.