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Another gender data gap: female drowning in Aotearoa, New Zealand
  1. Karen Richardson1,
  2. Amy E Peden2,3
  1. 1Water Safety New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Royal Life Saving Society - Australia, Broadway, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Karen Richardson, Water Safety New Zealand, Wellington 6011, New Zealand; karen{at}watersafety.org.nz

Abstract

Introduction A gender gap is present in drowning research and prevention interventions, resulting in an inequitable focus on males. This study aimed to address the gender data gap, exploring female drowning in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Methods National data on female fatal and non-fatal drowning requiring hospitalisation between 2003 and 2019 were sourced from DrownBase, Water Safety New Zealand’s drowning database. Univariate and χ2 analyses were conducted for fatal and hospitalisation data. Crude rates were calculated and used to explore temporal trends and RR by age groups and ethnicity for fatal and non-fatal drowning. Ratios for drowning-related hospitalisations and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) claims to drowning deaths were also calculated.

Results From 2003 to 2019, a total of 1087 female drowning fatalities and non-fatal (76.0%) drowning incidents requiring hospitalisation occurred. Linear trends indicate hospitalisations increased (y=0.0766x+1.4271; R2=0.4438), while fatal drowning decreased (y=−0.0101x+0.7671; R2=0.1011). The highest fatal (1.60) and non-fatal (8.22) drowning rates were seen among children aged 0–4 years. For every one female drowning fatality, there are 3.46 hospital admissions and 675.55 ACC claims.

Discussion Female drowning represents a significant burden on the health system and the community in New Zealand. Further investment in interventions targeting females about their own risky behaviours around water (not only children in their care) is suggested, including interventions focused on hazardous conditions and alcohol consumption.

Conclusion For decades, the focus of drowning prevention among adolescents and adults has been on males. However, efforts must be broadened to prevent any further increase in drowning-related incidents among females in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

  • gender
  • policy
  • descriptive epidemiology
  • drowning
  • public health
  • alcohol
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Footnotes

  • Twitter @amyepeden

  • Contributors KR conceptualised the study and was in charge of data curation. AEP conducted analysis and data visualisation. KR and AEP drafted the manuscript. Both authors approve the submitted version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • 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.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) has agreements with Coronial Services New Zealand, the National Coronial Information System (Australia) (NZ008) and the New Zealand Ministry of Health (2007–0825) to access data in order to maintain DrownBase. The protocols of DrownBase access adhere to the principles of the New Zealand Privacy Act 2020. A data access agreement is in place between WSNZ and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to access anonymised ACC data as requested for research.

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

  • Data availability statement Data may be requested and a data access agreement entered into if deemed to be a suitable project. Please contact karen@watersafety.org.nz.

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