Protection Motivation Theory (PMT), Risk of Drowning, and Water Safety Perceptions of Adult Caregivers/Parents

The Open Sports Sciences Journal 31 July 2018 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1875399X01811010050



While the circumstances surrounding drowning incidents in high income countries are well known, little is known about how members of the public perceive the risk of drowning and their role in drowning prevention.


The purpose of the study was to analyze caregiver/parent perceptions of the risk of drowning in terms of risk (threat) appraisal processes and coping appraisal processes.


This study utilized Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to analyse parent’s perception of the risk of drowning as part of an evaluation of a water safety program. Participants (N = 174) completed a pre-intervention survey that sought information on their water competency, open water experience, previous instruction, and perceptions of drowning risk.


In terms of risk appraisal processes, more females, Asian peoples, and those with lower self-reported swimming and rescue competency perceived greater severity of drowning risk and greater vulnerability to that risk when swimming in open water. In terms of coping appraisal processes, males, non-Asian peoples and those with self-reported good swimming and rescue competencies were more likely to report confidence in the self-efficacy of their preventive actions.


Considerable variations in risk (threat) appraisal and coping appraisal processes in respect of the risk of drowning were evident. The implications of the findings on water safety education are discussed. Ways of promoting water safety and drowning prevention are examined and recommendations for future research studies to address limitations of the study are made.

Keywords: Bystander rescue, Drowning prevention, Protection Motivation Theory (PMT), Risk of drowning, Swimming competency, Water safety.
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