Waterproofing Children in Selected California Regions: An Explanatory Sequential Mixed Methods Study Examining the Data Collection on Fatal and Nonfatal Drownings

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Data elements collected from drowning submersion forms are not conclusive when attempting to build reliable drowning prevention initiatives based on the statistical data that have been captured in the field. Coinciding with this issue is the fact that data collection reporting systems are deficient in capturing comprehensive data that are being submitted by emergency service agencies at the local and state level. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children less than 5 years of age and third leading cause for children aged 5 to 14 years worldwide. Nonfatal drownings occur at a rate of 5:1 against fatal drownings in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine the data elements collected from submersion forms and investigate how the data are collected, analyzed, and implemented into drowning prevention strategies within the five selected regions in California through participatory action research (PAR). Utilizing a mixed methods approach for data collection, the selected regions submitted their secondary statistical drowning data that were analyzed in order to guide the semistructured interviews with 8 public health administrators and emergency service agents. The findings identified that acceptance of the Utstein-style guidelines for reporting drownings did not match regional submersion forms and the data collection reporting systems utilized are not capturing all of the data. The findings suggested that public health and emergency service agencies seek to build comprehensive data collection and reporting systems collaboratively and seal the gaps that hinder accurate reporting. Further research addresses developing a water safety plan at the state level that provides a foundation for public health agencies to develop effective drowning prevention initiatives in order to reduce the number of drownings.
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment for the requirements of the degree Doctor of Public Administration
Public Health