Mortalidad por ahogamientos en Cataluña (2019-2022)

Suelves Joanxich, Josep M.
Barberia Marcalain, Eneko
Ortega Sánchez, Marisa
BACKGROUND: Data on drownings tend to underestimate mortality from this cause. The objective of this study was to describe fatal drownings recorded in Catalonia between 2019 and 2022 through forensic sources, present their characteristics, and assess the utility of this information for monitoring drowning mortality. METHODS: A retrospective observational study based on the register of judicial deaths from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Catalonia was carried out. Data on medicolegal aetiology, aquatic environment, age, gender, date of death, and municipality of origin were analysed. Statistical analysis was based on the comparison of proportions test based on Chi-square for categorical variables and the Mann Whitney U test for the comparison of numerical variables. RESULTS: A total of 310 drownings were recorded, with a mean age of 57.2 years and a male predominance (77.1%). The majority of drownings were unintentional (71.3%), followed by suicides (15.5%), and cases of undetermined intent (12.6%). Compared to intentional drownings, unintentional and undetermined intent drownings had a higher percentage of males than females (81.2% vs. 56%, p<0.001), and fewer cases with Spanish nationality than foreign or undetermined nationality (60% vs. 92%, p<0.001). Middle-aged and older individuals accounted for the majority of deaths, but among unintentional drownings, those recorded in pools included significantly higher percentages of children and adolescents aged zero-fourteen years than those occurring in natural waters. CONCLUSIONS: The results highlight the importance of drowning mortality in Catalonia and the need to strengthen preventive activities, especially for children and during episodes of intense heat. Medicolegal sources are useful for monitoring drowning mortality, but it would be beneficial if they incorporated information on variables such as place of residence and nationality ​
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