Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Identifying opportunities for multisectoral action for drowning prevention: a scoping review
  1. Justin-Paul Scarr1,2,
  2. Jagnoor Jagnoor1,3
  1. 1 The George Institute for Global Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Royal Life Saving Society - Australia, Broadway, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Injury Division, The George Institute for Global Health, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to Mr Justin-Paul Scarr, The George Institute for Global Health, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia; jscarr{at}


Background Drowning is a complex health issue, where global agendas call for greater emphasis on multisectoral action, and engagement with sectors not yet involved in prevention efforts. Here, we explored the conceptual boundaries of drowning prevention in peer-review and grey literature, by reviewing the contexts, interventions, terminologies, concepts, planning models, and sector involvement, to identify opportunities for multisectoral action.

Methods We applied scoping review method and have reported against Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews checklist. We searched four electronic databases for peer-reviewed articles published on 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2020 and five databases for grey literature published on 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2020. We applied the search term “drowning,” and charted data addressing our research questions.

Results We included 737 peer-reviewed articles and 68 grey documents. Peer-publications reported situational assessments (n=478, 64.86%) and intervention research (n=259, 35.14%). Drowning was reported in the context of injury (n=157, 21.30%), commonly in childhood injury (n=72, 9.77%), mortality studies (n=60, 8.14%) and in grey documents addressing adolescent, child, environmental, occupational and urban health, refugee and migrant safety and disaster. Intervention research was mapped to World Health Organization recommended actions. The leading sectors in interventions were health, leisure, education and emergency services.

Conclusion Although drowning is often described as a major health issue, the sectors and stakeholders involved are multifarious. The interventions are more often initiated by non-health sectors, meaning multisectoral action is critical. Framing drowning prevention to reinforce cobenefits for other health and development agendas could strengthen multisectoral action. Greater investment in partnerships with non-health sectors, encouraging joint planning and implementation, and creating systems for increased accountability should be a priority in future years.

  • Drowning
  • Systematic Review
  • Global
  • Advocacy

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

View Full Text


  • Twitter @JustinScarr, @jjagnoor80

  • Contributors J-PS contributed to study conception, design, analysis, interpretation and manuscript writing. JJ contributed to study conception, design, analysis, interpretation and review of manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript. JJ accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.

  • Funding J-PS is supported by the Australian Government Research Training Programme Scholarship. Award/Grant number not applicable. JJ is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) early career fellowship. Award/Grant number not applicable. Research at Royal Life Saving Society-Australia is supported by the Australian Government. Award/Grant number not applicable.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.