Observing patterns of river usage

Peden, Amy E., Franklin, Richard C., Leggat, Peter A., and Lindsay, Daniel (2019) Observing patterns of river usage. Safety, 5 (4). 66.

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Rivers are a leading location for drowning, yet little is known about people’s usage of these waterways. This pilot study aimed to test the use of direct observations to calculate river usage. Direct observations were conducted at regular intervals within defined zones at four river drowning locations in Australia (including weekends and the Australia Day national public holiday). Data recorded were date and time of observation; total people (including males, females, children, and adults); and number of people on, in, and beside the water. Univariate analysis with mean (SD) and range was conducted. Interrater reliability for observations was determined using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) (one-way random-effects, average measures model), with a 95% confidence interval (CI). Across 149 time points, 309 observations resulted in 13,326 river interactions observed by multiple observers. There was an average of 39 people (M = 39.4, SD = 29.4, range = 0–137) per observation, 44 people (M = 44.2, SD = 32.7, range = 0–37) on an average weekend, and 97 people (M = 96.8, SD = 58.1, range = 20–190) on Australia Day. More females (M = 20.6, SD = 16.0, range = 0–83) than males (M = 18.3, SD = 14.5, range = 0–68) were observed. More people were observed in the water (M = 20.6, SD = 20.4, range = 0–84) than beside or on the water. Interrater reliability was excellent, consistently above 0.900 for all variables collected (apart from the variable of beside the river). Despite males accounting for 80% of river drowning fatalities, more females were observed than males. Increased visitation on the Australia Day public holiday may be linked to increased drowning risk. This study detailed a simple approach to data collection, exploring exposure within a defined zone at river locations. River usage is dynamic, with people’s movement in and out of the water changing their risk exposure. Observational-based data collection for drowning, particularly for rivers, is an important yet highly neglected area of research.

Item ID: 60537
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2313-576X
Keywords: drowning; rivers; exposure; observational studies; intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC); error; Australia; risk
Copyright Information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license.
Funders: Royal Surf Lifesaving Australia, Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2019 06:07
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420203 Environmental epidemiology @ 50%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420604 Injury prevention @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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