Background Drowning fatalities are a significant global health problem, with close to 400,000 people drowning each year worldwide. In the Republic of Ireland (ROI), approximately 135 people drown per annum, the majority of which are preventable incidents. International best practice calls for the use of evidence-based interventions to prevent drowning deaths. This research project aimed to improve the current scope and quality of drowning fatalities data available in Ireland, to facilitate optimal intervention design, and ultimately reduce drowning deaths.
Methods This project consisted of three main stages. The first involved a scoping exercise designed to identify the extent of missing drowning fatality data, achieved by comparing source records for 2012–2013 held by the statutory body Irish Water Safety with official Irish death statistics. Means of increasing fatalities coverage were then investigated, including assessing media reports. Second, new drowning data taxonomies to enhance the detail of the data captured following a fatality were designed, and evaluated during an expert stakeholder workshop. Third, a novel Irish drowning fatalities database using these taxonomies was created for future use.
Results Findings from the first stage indicated that records for 62% of drowning fatalities that occurred in Ireland during 2012–2013 were missing. The use of additional drowning data sources, including access to complimentary fatality records and media reports increased coverage considerably for this period. The proposed taxonomies were evaluated favourably during the workshop, and database uptake has been promising.
Conclusions Drowning fatality data quality and coverage in the ROI can be improved. The new database and taxonomies will serve as valuable future resources, with the potential to reliably inform prevention strategies and intervention design.
- Drowning fatalities data
- data taxonomies
- drowning interventions
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