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

Tavis J. Glassman, Tom Castor, Monita Karmakar, Alexis Blavos, Paige Dagenhard, Julianne Domigan, Erin Sweeney, Aaron Diehr, Ruthie Kucharewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background. 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA 2SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY, USA 3Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, USA 4Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, OH, USA 5Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, USA Authors’ Note: The research team would like to thank Wanda and Tankeeya Butts as well as The Josh Project Foundation for their collaboration with this research project. The financial resources for this study were provided via a grant from the Center for Injury Research and Policy funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Address correspondence to Alexis Blavos, Assistant Professor, Health Department, SUNY Cortland, 15 Graham Avenue, Moffett, Center, Room 105, Cortland, NY 13025, USA; e-mail: alexis.blavos@cortland.edu.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Society for Public Health Education.


  • at-risk
  • children
  • drowning
  • prevention
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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