A comparison of attitudes and knowledge of beach safety in Australia for beachgoers, rural residents and international tourists

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Journal Article
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2012, 36 (4), pp. 385 - 391
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Objectives: To compare attitudes and knowledge of beach safety in Australia of beachgoers, rural inland residents and international tourists. Method: This analysis is part of the 2007 baseline survey for the Science of the Surf project and involved interviews of 367 people on beaches in New South Wales (NSW), 62 rural residents of a moderate-sized inland town and 73 international tourists visiting Sydney beaches. Participants were asked about various aspects of beach safety and shown photographs of beaches and asked to indicate where they would swim and to identify the location of any rip currents. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the predictors of swimming choice. Results: Most beachgoers were aware that swimming between flags indicating a patrolled section of beach was the safe swimming option, but a significant proportion chose not to swim there. Rural residents were more likely than the other two groups to make safe choices about where to swim in the presence of flags. The odds of international tourists making a safe swimming choice in the vicinity of a rip current were three times lower than usual beachgoers and rural inland residents. Conclusions and Implications: Improving beach safety will require more refined strategies for specific target groups rather than a series of one-size-fits-all approaches. © 2012 Public Health Association of Australia.
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