HEALTH INITIATIVES IN NATIONAL PAN-AMERICAN SWIMMING FEDERATIONS
ABSTRACT Introduction: National Swimming Federations (NFs) supervise a large number of athletes and have the duty to protect their health that implies also the opportunity to improve public health. Objective: 1) To determine if the health professionals, the priorities, activities, and researches of the Pan-American NFs are focused on protecting athletes’ health and promoting the health of the population in general. 2) To determine if the FINA rules, projects and programs are applied. Method: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was carried out among the 45 Pan-American NFs requesting information on the profile of the health professionals (dimension 1; D1), on programs, activities and research to promote health measures (dimension 2; D2), and on the importance of Pan-American NFs for the health of athletes and for the promotion of health in society in general (dimension 3; D3). We performed a similarity study according to the Rogers-Tanimoto coefficient (D1 and D2) and the chi-squared test (χ²) (D3). Results: Thirty NFs answered the survey (response rate: 66.6%). For each dimension, the NFs were classified into five groups (A, B, C, D, E). Among the NFs, 33.3% have physicians and 33.3% have physical therapists. In each of the dimensions, Group A accounted for the majority of NFs but their results were lower. The groups with the highest rates in each dimension contained a maximum of two NFs. The health of the elite athletes was ranked as the fourth most important issue. The health of the recreational athletes and the health of the general population had the lowest priority. Drowning prevention programs were the most common. Conclusions: Pan-American NFs have few medical resources and only a few have injury prevention programs for elite athletes. There is a need to improve health promotion programs to achieve relevant social outcomes.