Elizabeth Bennett, CHES, MPH
Quan Linda, MD


Objectives: To develop a media campaign based on data and marketing strategies targeting adolescent drownings in open water.

Methods: The characteristics of drownings and near drownings of 14-19 year
olds occurring between 1990 and 1995 were determined by analyzing;

  1. Washington state death certificates and
  2. newspaper articles on submersion injuries.

A team composed of a child health educator, pediatric emergency medicine physician, Childrens Hospital Marketing Department, a health plan, and a state boating agency worked with an ad agency and a television station.

Selected families of drowning victims were interviewed. A total of 10 adolescent focus groups were held throughout the state to identify the type and format of messages that would appeal to teens.

Results: A radio and a television spot were developed and aired throughout the state. A comprehensive news media kit, tip cards and frisbees with a prevention message were distributed through local coalitions. The television and radio spots were aired specifically during shows that appealed to a teen audience. Over 30 media interviews were conducted. A number of news agencies followed up the following summer to continue coverage of teen related drowning prevention issues. An estimated 7,000 tip cards and 3,000 frisbees were distributed during water-related events. The campaign won a first place award from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society for Public Relations.

Conclusions: A collaborative, multi organization, research-based approach to a drowning prevention media campaign resulted in a well received statewide program that helped heighten awareness of the drowning risks and prevention messages for adolescents.

Elizabeth Bennett
Seattle Children's
P.O. Box 5371, Mail Stop S-219
Seattle, Washington 98145-5005