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190 Demographic and background factors impacting aquatic competence in children: a systematic review
  1. Charlotte Duke1,
  2. Hannah Calverley1,
  3. Lauren Petrass2,
  4. Bernadette Matthews1,
  5. Jacqui Peters3,
  6. Loretta Konjarski4,
  7. Kate Moncrieff3
  1. 1Life Saving Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Federation University, Ballarat, Australia
  3. 3Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 4Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia


Background Globally, drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury death among children. To prevent child drowning, four major prevention strategies have been proposed: improving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, restricting access, supervision, and improving aquatic competencies. There is however a dearth of studies exploring the relationship between demographic factors and their effect on aquatic competencies.

Methods This review critically synthesised studies that examined the link between demographic characteristics and practical aquatic competencies. Eleven databases were searched for English language peer-reviewed studies published since 2000, with the PRISMA process applied.

Results Fourteen studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Studies were quasi-experimental or cross sectional in design, ranking as level III-2 or IV, respectively, on the NHMRC Evidence Hierarchy. Other aspects of the articles were considered, including sampling, heterogeneity, confounding, and bias. Eighteen demographic factors were shown to significantly impact aquatic competencies. Demographic factors most often reported in studies included: age (n=57,048), gender (n=56,282), geography (n=47,620), medical conditions (n=7,888), and frequency of swimming (n=7,980).

Conclusion This review highlights the demographic factors that significantly impact on aquatic competencies. Whilst further investigation is required to increase the evidence base for some demographic factors, these results may assist in identifying and tailoring swimming and water safety programmes to accommodate those at risk of not achieving aquatic development milestones.

Learning Outcomes Drowning prevention requires a multifaceted approach, which includes targeted age groups and specific risk factors. This review provides practitioners with insight into demographic factors that influence the development of aquatic competence and enables interventions to be targeted accordingly.

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