A systematic review of the evidence that swimming pools improve health and wellbeing in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia

David Hendrickx, Anna Stephen, Deborah Lehmann, Desiree Silva, Marleen Boelaert, Jonathan Carapetis, Roz Walker

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Abstract

Objective: To provide an overview of the evidence for health and wellbeing benefits associated with swimming pools in remote Aboriginal∗ communities in Australia. 

Methods: Peer-reviewed and grey literature from 1990 to 2014 was searched to identify studies set in remote Australia that evaluated health and wellbeing benefits that have been associated with swimming pools. Studies were categorised using an evidence classification scale. 

Results: Twelve studies met our search criteria. All prospective studies that collected data on skin infections found access to swimming pools to be associated with a drop of skin sore prevalence and -where measured- severity. Studies documenting ear and eye infections showed mixed outcomes. Many wider community and wellbeing benefits were documented in various studies, although many of these were primarily anecdotal in nature. 

Conclusions: Although a case can be made regarding skin infections and the broader wellbeing benefits that swimming pools may bring to remote Aboriginal communities, the benefit to ear and eye health remains unresolved. 

Implications: The decision to provide swimming pools to remote Aboriginal communities should not hinge on the demonstration of direct health benefits alone. Equity considerations and the potential broader benefits such amenities may entail are equally important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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