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Out of sight but not out of mind: rural drowning in Queensland
  1. B Wallis1,2,3,4,
  2. K Watt4,5,
  3. R Franklin4,6,
  4. R Kimble1,2,3
  1. 1Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute, Australia
  2. 2Royal Children's Hospital, Centre for Burns and Trauma Research, Australia
  3. 3School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Australia
  4. 4School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Australia
  5. 5School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia
  6. 6Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Australia


    Background Paediatric drowning is a significant cause of preventable death in Queensland, Australia. While literature exists on fatal drowning events, incidence, mechanisms and consequences of nonfatal drowning remain unexplored in the Queensland population, especially in relation to rural/remote regions.

    Aims The aim of this study was to determine morbidity and mortality of drowning in young people (0–19 years) in Queensland from 2002 to 2008, and to identify risk factors.

    Method Retrospective data (2002–2008) on fatal and nonfatal drowning events among Queenslanders aged 0–19 years were collated from multiple sources (pre-hospital; emergency department; admitted patients; coroner's), and linked.

    Results There were 1299 cases in total (Incidence Rate=20.81 per 100 000 per annum). Approximately two-thirds of fatal and 47% of non-fatal drowning events occurred outside a major city. Of events that occurred in remote/very remote areas of Queensland, 21% were fatal; this was significantly higher than in regional areas (10.5%), or in major cities 7% (p<0.05).

    70% of drowning events that occurred in remote/very remote Queensland were aged 0–4 years. The most common locations for drowning in areas outside of a major city were pool (58%), bath (14%); dam (8%), and river/creek (7%). Patterns of injury will be presented in further detail at the conference.

    Significance/Contribution to the Field Drowning in rural and remote areas is a significant issue. This project used linked data to provide the most accurate estimate possible of the incidence of drowning mortality and morbidity, and to identify risk factors. Recommendations for injury prevention strategies relevant to rural and remote drowning will be provided.

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