A systematic review of demographic and background factors associated with the development of children’s aquatic competence

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Konjarski, Loretta ORCID: 0000-0003-2624-7493, Duke, Charlotte, Calverley, Hannah, Petrass, Laura, Peters, Jacqui, Moncrieff, Kate and Matthews, Bernadette (2023) A systematic review of demographic and background factors associated with the development of children’s aquatic competence. Injury Epidemiology, 10. ISSN 2197-1714


Background Globally, drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death among children. Teaching aquatic competencies (swimming skills and water safety knowledge) to children has been proposed as a prevention strategy. In Australia, however, many children are not meeting standard aquatic competency benchmarks. Exploration of the connection between demographic and background factors and aquatic competencies could provide insight into why differences in acquisition of aquatic knowledge and skills occur. Main body A systematic literature review guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses was performed to identify studies that reported on the association between demographic and background factors and aquatic competencies. Nine databases were searched for English language peer-reviewed studies published since 2000. Fourteen studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Studies were quasi-experimental or cross-sectional in design, which is considered quality level III-2 or IV, respectively, on the National Health and Medical Research Council Evidence Hierarchy. Study quality was moderate, and risk of bias was high. While aquatic competencies can be taught, this review found that factors including age, gender, geographic residence, medical conditions/disabilities, socioeconomic status, and swimming frequency were significantly associated with the demonstration and/or acquisition of aquatic competencies. Conclusion This review provides insight into demographic and background factors that are significantly associated with the development of aquatic competence. Whilst further investigation is required to increase the evidence base, these findings may assist in tailoring swimming and water safety programs to accommodate those at-risk of not achieving age-appropriate aquatic competencies.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/46767
DOI 10.1186/s40621-023-00447-4
Official URL https://injepijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/1...
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords drowning, water safety, aquatic competence, swimming, swimming skills
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