Ethnic Differences in Drowning Rates in Ontario, Canada

Abstract

The scientific literature suggests ethnicity may be a risk factor for drowning. Ontario, Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world. The objective of our study was to determine if Asians, Africans and Hispanics were at an increased risk of drowning compared to Greater Europeans. Ethnicity served as a surrogate for country of origin. Using Coroner’s reports, all unintentional drowning deaths in Ontario from 2004 to 2008 were reviewed. The ethnicity of drowning victims was estimated using a previously validated name-based ethnicity classifier. Age-standardized drowning rates were calculated by sex and place of residence (rural vs. non-rural) for people of each ethnicity group using the method of direct standardization. For residents of Ontario living in rural areas, the age-standardized drowning rate was significantly higher among men of Asian, African, or Hispanic ethnicity compared to men of Greater European ethnicity (RR 13.9; 95 % CI 8.1–23.8) and for women of Asian, African, or Hispanic ethnicity compared to women of Greater European ethnicity (RR 23.9; 95 % CI 6.4–89.1). These high-risk individuals need to be considered when developing drowning prevention strategies.

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Acknowledgments

Preliminary findings from this study were presented at the 2011 World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Danang, Vietnam, May 10, 2011. This project was funded by an unrestricted Grant from the Lifesaving Society of Ontario. The funder had no input on study design, data acquisition, data interpretation, or manuscript writing. The authors thank Dr. Jim Edwards, June Lindsell, and the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario for support, valued input, and access to data. The authors wish to thank Angela Prencipe of the Toronto Region Statistics Canada Research Data Centre for guidance in accessing Census data and Jing Shen for expert assistance in programming and data extraction. The authors also wish to thank Marisa Creatore of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health for her assistance in using the Statistics Canada Postal Code Conversion File. The Centre for Research on Inner City Health gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The results and conclusions are those of the authors, and no official endorsement by any of the above organizations is intended or should be inferred.

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Correspondence to Stephen W. Hwang.

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Gallinger, Z.R., Fralick, M. & Hwang, S.W. Ethnic Differences in Drowning Rates in Ontario, Canada. J Immigrant Minority Health 17, 1436–1443 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-014-0095-7

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Keywords

  • Drowning
  • Ethnicity
  • Ontario
  • Harm prevention
  • Swimming
  • Immigrant