The attitude-practice gap revisited: Risk reduction beliefs and behaviors among owners of residential swimming pools

Garen J Wintemute, M. A. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Complete pool fencing and effective bystander resuscitation are both believed to reduce the risk of childhood drowning. The relationship between support for, and prevalence of, a complete pool barrier and current cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification was investigated among an equal probability sample of 795 owners of residential swimming pools in Sacramento County, California. Only 50% (95% confidence interval [CI] 44%, 56%) of respondents who favored a cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification requirement for pool owners represented a household with any members so certified. Only 35% (95% CI 26%, 44%) of respondents who endorsed a complete barrier requirement for all pools had a fence surrounding their own pool. Support for a cardiopulmonary resuscitation requirement was associated with a modestly higher prevalence of current cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification (46% vs 33%, difference = 13%, 95% CI for difference 2%, 24%). Endorsement of a pool barrier requirement was associated with a substantially higher prevalence of complete pool fencing (35% vs 7%, difference = 28%, 95% CI for difference 19%, 37%). The proportion of the pool-owning population endorsing these risk reduction behaviors is much larger than the proportion actually adopting them. The results suggest that an effective pool drowning- prevention program will rely primarily on legislative approaches, with health education serving as a useful adjunct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1171
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991



  • attitudes to health
  • drowning
  • health behavior
  • resuscitation
  • swimming pools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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