Sink or Swim

Clinicians Don't Often Counsel on Drowning Prevention

Published in: Pediatrics, v. 104, Suppl. 6, Nov. 1999, p. 1217-1219

Posted on on January 01, 1999

by Shari Barkin, Lillian Gelberg

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OBJECTIVE: Drowning is one of the leading causes of injury death for young children in the United States. This study examined primary care providers' knowledge of and counseling on drowning prevention. METHODS: A random sample of 465 Los Angeles County pediatricians, family physicians, and pediatric nurse practitioners who serve families with young children received mailed questionnaires; 325 (70%) responded. RESULTS: About two thirds of clinicians did not know that injury deaths attributable to drowning were more common than those attributable to toxic ingestions and firearm injuries in young children. Only one third of clinicians stated they counseled on drowning prevention. Counseling drowning prevention was positively associated with female gender (odds ratio: 1.97; 95% confidence interval: 1.64, 2.30) and negatively associated with an attitude that drowning prevention counseling was less important than other injury prevention topics (odds ratio:.73; 95% confidence interval:.61,.85). Clinician specialty, age, years out from training, proportion of well-child examinations in a typical week, having children, practice setting, and knowledge of drowning injury deaths were not significant in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSION: The belief of clinicians that it is less important to counsel on drowning prevention than other injury prevention topics poses a substantial challenge to their providing such education to families with young children.

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