A Social Marketing Intervention to Prevent Drowning Among Inner-City Youth

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Glassman, T. J., Castor, T., Karmakar, M., Blavos, A., Dagenhard, P., Domigan, J., Sweeney, E., Diehr, A., & Kucharewski, R. (2018). A Social Marketing Intervention to Prevent Drowning Among Inner-City Youth. Health Promotion Practice, 19(2), 175–183. https://doi-org.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/10.1177/1524839917732559


Water-related injuries and fatalities pose serious public health issues, especially to African American youth, a demographic group that drowns at disproportionately high rates. Aim. The purpose of this study was to determine if a social marketing intervention targeting the parents and guardians of inner-city youth (U.S. Midwest) could positively influence their perceptions concerning water safety. Method. Researchers employed a quasi-experimental design using matched pairs to evaluate the intervention. Participants consisted of parents who enrolled their children in a six-session survival-swimming course. Guided by the Health Belief Model, the researchers disseminated six prevention messages using six different channels (brochure, e-mail, SMS text message, postcard, Facebook, and window cling). Results. The findings from a two-way analysis of covariance revealed that treatment group participants’ knowledge and perceptions of water-related threat all changed favorably. Additionally, all participants planned to reenroll their children in swim lessons. Discussion. A social marketing campaign using the Health Belief Model improved inner-city parents’ knowledge regarding water safety and enhanced their self-efficacy. Conclusion. This study provides practitioners with feasible strategies (prevention messages) to supplement swim lessons, with the ultimate goal of preventing drowning among at-risk youth.