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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of policy for public spas and hot tubs in British Columbia Crandall, Robert A.


Increasing numbers of deaths, injuries, and disease outbreaks associated with the use of spas and hot tubs have created increasing concern about the effectiveness of existing spa management policies and procedures. The problem of devising appropriate public spa policies is complicated by the high degree of uncertainty related to spa management. In examining this problem, the thesis evaluates policy for public spas and hot tubs and proposes a set of policies for the Province of British Columbia which would provide reasonable public health and safety protection. The potential hazards associated with spa use are examined in order to identify the risks and uncertainties which pose difficulties for spa management. The difficulties illuminate several basic issues which policy evaluation must address. A framework is developed for evaluating spa management policies based upon public policy and public health literature. Using criteria established by the evaluative framework, spa policies and practices in selected jurisdictions of the United States and Canada are evaluated. Literature and interviews obtained from government agencies, the industry, spa operators and others are used as a basis of information for the evaluation. A set of spa policies for British Columbia is then proposed which is designed to meet the evaluative criteria and overcome existing deficiencies evidenced by the U.S.-Canadian experience. The results of the study indicate that potential hazards associated with public spas and hot tubs justify government regulation of spa management in a manner different from regulation of swimming pool and other public bathing activities. Spa policies in British Columbia which provide reasonable public health protection should be developed to accomplish the following; (1) precisely define spa hazards, (2) provide an acceptable level of "safe" conditions for spa users and the public, (3) actively involve spa users and operators in policy development, (4) provide policy implementation measures which effectively deal with the variable conditions of spas, and (5) organize a social learning process to reduce uncertainties and improve spa management practices. Specific recommendations for attaining these objectives are suggested.

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