Drowning prevention counselling by paediatricians to educate caregivers on water safety

J Paediatr Child Health. 2022 Sep;58(9):1584-1593. doi: 10.1111/jpc.16049. Epub 2022 Jun 4.


Aim: Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children 1-4 years of age in the USA. Texas, a southeastern state, is disproportionately burdened by paediatric drowning. The aim of this project was to increase drowning prevention counselling provided during well-child visits to families with children aged 0-10 years.

Methods: We developed and implemented a water safety counselling programme for paediatricians to impart to families during well child, urgent care and ED visits for 0-10 year age group. Physicians completed and self-reported demographic, pre- and post-intervention, counselling rate and project evaluation surveys, while caregivers completed post-intervention surveys only. Both physicians and caregivers were surveyed on evidence-based drowning prevention strategies (four-sided fencing of pools, touch supervision, life jackets and swim/cardio-pulmonary resuscitation classes).

Results: Thirty-three physicians and 1934 caregivers participated in the project. Physicians demonstrated statistically significant improvement in discussing drowning prevention with patients (3.5 vs. 4 on Likert scale; P = 0.002) in 2018 versus 2019. The counselling frequency in primary care settings increased from 54% to 70% from year 1 to 2. 100% of physicians correctly identified the best drowning prevention strategy and 80.6% of caregivers reported learning new water safety information in 2019 versus 68.8% in 2018 (P value < 0.001).

Conclusions: This water safety education programme demonstrated increased drowning prevention counselling during well-child visits. The counselling was effective as demonstrated by increased caregiver acquisition of new water safety information. Paediatricians had adequate drowning prevention knowledge; an efficient counselling strategy helped them impart this knowledge to their patients.

Keywords: counselling; paediatric drowning prevention; water safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Counseling
  • Drowning* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pediatricians
  • Water


  • Water