Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: A Systematic Literature Review of a Silent Contributor to Adult Drowning

Peden, Amy E., Taylor, Danielle H., and Franklin, Richard C. (2022) Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: A Systematic Literature Review of a Silent Contributor to Adult Drowning. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (14). 8863.

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Abstract: Medical conditions can increase drowning risk. No prior study has systematically reviewed the published evidence globally regarding medical conditions and drowning risk for adults. MEDLINE (Ovid), PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, PsycINFO (ProQuest) and SPORTDiscus databases were searched for original research published between 1 January 2005 and 31 October 2021 that reported adult (>=15 years) fatal or non-fatal drowning of all intents and pre-existing medical conditions. Conditions were grouped into the relevant International Classifications of Diseases (ICD) codes. Eighty-three studies were included (85.5% high-income countries; 38.6% East Asia and Pacific region; 75.9% evidence level III-3). Diseases of the nervous system (n = 32 studies; 38.6%), mental and behavioural conditions (n = 31; 37.3%) and diseases of the circulatory system (n = 25; 30.1%) were the most common categories of conditions. Epilepsy was found to increase the relative risk of drowning by 3.8 to 82 times, with suggested preventive approaches regarding supervised bathing or showering. Drowning is a common suicide method for those with schizophrenia, psychotic disorders and dementia. Review findings indicate people with pre-existing medical conditions drown, yet relatively few studies have documented the risk. There is a need for further population-level research to more accurately quantify drowning risk for pre-existing medical conditions in adults, as well as implementing and evaluating population-level attributable risk and prevention strategies.

Item ID: 75926
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1660-4601
Keywords: pre-existing medical condition; drown; epilepsy; cardiac; injury; suicide; dementia; depression; ischaemic heart disease; seizure
Copyright Information: Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2022 00:25
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420604 Injury prevention @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200408 Injury prevention and control @ 100%
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