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School of Public Health
College of Health Sciences, Makerere University

Determinants of lifejacket use among boaters on Lake Albert, Uganda: a qualitative study


Background Drowning is a major cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. The toll is greatest in low and middle-income countries. Over 95% of people who drowned while boating in Uganda were not wearing a lifejacket. We explored the determinants of lifejacket use among boaters on Lake Albert, Uganda.Methods We conducted a qualitative enquiry with a hermeneutic phenomenological undertone leaning on relativism ontology and emic subjectivism epistemology. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews (IDIs) were held with boaters in 10 landing sites. We explored experiences and perspectives on lifejacket use. We used thematic analysis technique to analyse data and report results according to the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research.Results We recruited 88 boaters in 10 FGDs and 11 to take part in the IDIs. We identified three themes: motivators and opportunities for lifejacket use, barriers and threats to lifejacket use, and strategies to improve lifejacket use. Many boaters attributed their lifejacket use to prior experience or witness of a drowning. Perceived high costs of lifejackets, limited knowledge, reluctance to use lifejackets because of distrust in their effectiveness, and the belief that it is women who should wear lifejackets were among the barriers and threats. Participants mentioned the need for mandatory enforcement together with community sensitisations as strategies to improve lifejacket use.Conclusion Determinants of lifejacket use among boaters include experience or witness of drowning, limited knowledge about lifejackets and distrust in the effectiveness of the available lifejackets. Mandatory lifejacket wearing alongside educational interventions might improve lifejacket use.Data are available upon reasonable request. Due to confidentiality, data are publicly unavailable. However, data may be availed upon reasonable request to the corresponding author on

Year of Publication
Injury prevention : journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention
Number of Pages
Date Published
2022 Aug