Table 1

Relevant papers identifying prevalence of fatal drowning in rivers (n=21)

ReferenceCountry/area of countryStudy country income levelYear(s)PopulationData source/ICD8, 9, 10, none, unknownTerminologyPopulation based (Y/N)Number of river drowning deaths% of river drowning deathsRate/100 000 populationActivity prior to drowning
Brenner et al34USAHIC1995Children aged <20 years1 (ICD9)River, creekY23517UTBCNot discussed
Byard and Lipsett35Australia (South Australia)HICMarch 1963 to February 1998Children <2 years of age3 (None)RiverN—Case Series39UTBCNot discussed
Cass et al36Australia (New South Wales)HIC1987–1990Children less than 15 years5 (None)Rivers and creeksN; case series1016UTBC70% wading near shore (caught by current or lost footing)
Cass et al37Australia (New South Wales)HIC1990–1995Children aged 0–14 years2 (None)RiversY54UTBC100% playing or swimming in the water
Davis et al30USA (New Mexico)HIC1975–1980People aged 0–24 years1 (None)RiversY63190.82*‘Most victims involved in activities near but not in the water’
Dietz and Baker38USA (Maryland)HIC1972All accidental drowning deaths6 (None)Rivers or creeksY61521.56*37.7% Boating
31.1% Swimming
24.6% Fell or stepped into deep water
Fang et al39China (Xiamen city and suburbs)LMIC2001–2005Children aged 1–4 years1 (ICD9, 10)RiverY7100.38*Not discussed
Fife et al40USA (New Jersey)HIC1981–1985All immersion injuries leading to hospital admission or death1 (ICD9)RiverY66160.21*Not discussed
Franklin et al41AustraliaHIC1989–1992Unintentional fatalities occurring in the farm environment2, 8 (Unknown)Rivers and creeksY1522UTBCNot discussed
Franklin et al4AustraliaHIC1 Jul 2002 to 30 Jun 2007All unintentional fatal drowning in Australia2, 8 (None)RiversY295200.29*20.7% Fall
20.3% Unknown
18.6% Other
Iqbal et al42Bangladesh (Matlab)LMIC1985–2000Children aged 1–4 years7 (None)RiversY444.4UTBCNot discussed
Kiakalayeh et al43Iran (Guilan and Mazandran)LMIC20 Mar 2005 to 20 Mar 2006Resident (R) and tourists (T)7, 1, 4 (ICD10)RiverY85 (75 R 10 T)25% (88.2% R 11.8% T)1.89†Not discussed
Lunetta et al44FinlandHIC1998–2000All ages8 (ICD8, 9, 10)RiverY9213.10.58*Not discussed
Newman et al45USA (five counties of Washington State)HIC1987 to 1996Individuals > 12 months to 19 years who died of injuries sustained while involved in recreational wilderness activity6 (None)RiverN; case series1537.5UTBC46.7% Swimming
33.3% Falls
20.0% Watercraft
Nixon et al5Australia (Brisbane (Queensland))HIC1967–1981Childhood (0–15 years)99 (None)Creeks, riversY2015.00.53*Not discussed
O'Hare et al46New ZealandHIC1983–1995Deaths as a result of recreational river rafting8 (ICD9)RiversN; case series3193.9UTBC100% Watercraft
Patteta and Biddinger47USA (North Carolina)HIC1980–1984All people1 (None)River or creekY30929.40.94*Not discussed
Rahman et al15Bangladesh (rural and urban communities)LMIC2003Children 0–174 (None)RiverY965.21.42*Not discussed
Riley et al48Australia (Tasmania)HIC1981–1993Children <152 (None)RiversY720.61.01*Not discussed
Tan49SingaporeHIC1992–2001All ages1 (None)RiversY7415.10.20†Not discussed
Wentworth et al50Canada (Brant County)HIC1969–1992All ages3 (None)River, creekY1633.3UTBC37.5% Falls
18.8% Watercraft
18.8% Swimming
  • Data source: 1, death certificates; 2, coronial records; 3, autopsy reports; 4, household surveys; 5, hospital medical records; 6, medical records (eg, records at the office of the chief medical examiner); 7, surveillance system; 8, country level statistics organisations (eg, Statistics Finland, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)) and New Zealand Health Information System; 99, unknown.

  • *Rate calculated using overall drowning rate and proportion of river drowning within overall drowning.

  • †Rate calculated using available population and drowning data in respective paper.

  • HIC, high-income country; ICD, International Classification of Disease; LMIC, low- and middle-income country; UTBC, unable to be calculated.