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Bowman TG, Singe SM, Lacy AMP, Register-Mihalik JK. J. Athl. Train. 2020; ePub(ePub): ePub.


Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr Pike Lacy is now at A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ.


(Copyright © 2020, National Athletic Trainers' Association (USA))






CONTEXT: Conflict between athletic trainers (ATs) and other stakeholders can occur because of competing interests over medical decisions regarding concussion. However, we are unaware of any studies specifically exploring these situations across various collegiate athletic affiliations.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the challenges faced by ATs when treating concussed student-athletes.

DESIGN: Qualitative study. SETTING: Online questionnaire. PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: A total of 434 ATs (267 women, 166 men, 1 missing data; age = 27.73 ± 3.24 years, experience = 5.17 ± 2.67 years) completed the questionnaire (response rate = 14.47%). Our participants represented multiple employment settings within intercollegiate athletics. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We sent an online questionnaire to 3000 ATs working in the collegiate and university setting across the United States. A survey expert verified face, content, and construct validity of the questionnaire in 2 rounds of review, and 3 ATs completed a content-validity tool before we finalized the survey. We analyzed the qualitative data using a general inductive approach and ensured trustworthiness through multiple-analyst triangulation and peer review.

RESULTS: When we examined the responses from our participants regarding their work with student-athletes who had sustained concussions, we found 2 major themes, each with subthemes. First, educational efforts appeared to be only modestly effective because of a lack of honesty, noncompliant actions, and coach interference. Second, return to learn was challenging because of a lack of communication among stakeholders, athletes being anxious about needing accommodations, and difficulty convincing faculty to provide reasonable accommodations.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on our findings, we recommend continued efforts to improve the culture surrounding concussion in collegiate athletes. Athletic trainers should include key stakeholders such as coaches, student-athletes, parents, faculty, and other educational administrators in their educational efforts to improve the policies and culture surrounding concussion treatment.

Language: en


conflict of interest; mild traumatic brain injury; organizational conflict


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