Personal Floatation Devices: A Community Based Prevention Marketing Approach to Increase Wear Rates

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Background: Florida has been among the top five states reporting the most boating accidents over the past several years. In these accidents, personal floatation devices (PFDs) were not worn by most of the victims. Recognizing the need for greater voluntary PFD use and a need for a consumer oriented approach to better understanding how to encourage this behavior, community based social marketing was employed.

Methods: A mixed methods research approach was used among boaters in Florida. Qualitative methods included observations of over 4000 boaters to determine PFD use, 30 intercept interviews at boating ramps, and 20 in-depth interviews. This data helped to inform an online panel survey of 300 resident boaters.

Results: Survey results indicated that most respondents felt that everyone who boats was at greater risk for injury, children were at risk, and those individuals who cannot swim were also at greater risk from not wearing a PFD. Bad weather and rough water were also factors in determining PFD use, along with the type of boat (open motorboats, jet skis, dingy, and small boats). Unlike the observational study, where more women were seen wearing PFDs, the panel survey demonstrated that males were more likely to wear a PFD than females. This is a positive finding since the majority of boaters tend to be males.

Conclusion: Community partnerships are paramount to sustainability in social marketing campaigns. Utilizing a consumer-based approach with community partnerships, social marketing campaigns can be developed and promote behavior change.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Washington, D.C.