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.
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.
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.
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.