Disparities in Adolescent Reported Drowning Prevention Strategies

J Adolesc Health. 2022 Dec;71(6):757-760. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2022.06.026. Epub 2022 Sep 8.


Purpose: Describe use of drowning prevention strategies among diverse adolescents.

Methods: We analyzed 47,051 responses to 2012-2018 Washington statewide surveys of 8th-12th grade students, regarding formal swimming lessons, comfort in deep water (a measure of perceived water competency), and life jacket use in small watercraft. Using survey-weighted Poisson regression, we measured these strategies in relation to race/ethnicity, primary language, maternal education, and urbanicity.

Results: 78.6% of students spoke English at home. Most students reported having had formal swimming lessons (62.2%), being comfortable in deep water (65.8%), and wearing life jackets (58.5%). Students primarily speaking Spanish (11.2%) reported formal swimming lessons (PR: 0.72; 95%CI: 0.67-0.78) and perceived water competency (PR: 0.75; 95%CI: 0.70-0.80) less often than primarily English-speaking. All prevention strategies were associated with higher maternal education.

Discussion: Drowning prevention strategies, access to swimming lessons, life jackets, and water competency should be promoted among low-income children and those whose primary language is not English.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Drowning* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming / education
  • Washington
  • Water


  • Water