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Three year follow up of a self certification system for the assessment of fitness to dive in Scotland
  1. S Glen
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Glen
 Department of Medicine, Stirling Royal Infirmary, Livilands, Stirling FK8 2AU, Scotland, UK;


Background: The need for routine medical examinations of sport divers in the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club (Scot-SAC) was revised in March 2000, and a new system using a self administered screening questionnaire was developed to allow divers to be assessed when necessary by doctors with diving medicine experience.

Objective: To assess the effect of the new medical system on medical referee workload, diver exclusion rates, and diving incident frequency.

Methods: All divers were required to complete a questionnaire to screen for conditions that might affect fitness to dive. Divers answering “Yes” to any of the questions had their medical background assessed by a diving doctor, and, if necessary, received a clinical examination or investigation. The rate of diver exclusions based on the questionnaire response was recorded in conjunction with analysis of the incident reports.

Results: The number of forms requiring review by diving doctors increased from 1.2% to 5.7% (p<0.0001, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.06 to −0.03) in the year after the introduction of the new medical system and gradually increased in subsequent years to 7.7% (p<0.0001, 95% CI −0.08 to −0.05). The number of divers failing to be certified fit to dive increased slightly from 0.7% to 1.0% after one year (p  =  0.26, 95% CI −0.01 to 0.00) and subsequently to 2.0% (p  =  0.0003, 95% CI 0.02 to −0.01) after three years. Most divers were certified fit to dive on the basis of the questionnaire alone, and only 0.9% required objective investigation (such as exercise testing or echocardiography). Analysis of the incidents during three years of follow up confirmed that no incident occurred because of an undetected pre-existing medical condition. Two incidents involved divers with hypertension, but both had received medical examinations and investigation based on their responses to the questionnaire.

Conclusion: The new self administered questionnaire system appears to be an effective screening tool for the detection of divers requiring detailed assessment by doctors with diving medicine experience.

  • Scot-SAC, Scottish Sub-Aqua Club
  • UKSDMC, UK Sport Diving Medical Committee
  • sport diving
  • fitness to dive
  • scuba
  • diving

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