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Journal Article


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


Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs.


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






CONTEXT: Organizational conflict, particularly between coaches and medical professionals, has been reported in collegiate athletics. Different values create room for conflict between coaches and athletic trainers (ATs); however, ATs' experiences when making medical decisions are not fully understood.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the presence of organizational conflict regarding medical decision making and determine if differences exist across athletic affiliations.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Collegiate athletics (National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA], National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics [NAIA], National Junior College Athletic Association [NJCAA]). PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: A total of 434 ATs responded (age = 27.7 ± 3.2 years, years certified = 5.2 ± 2.7), representing the NCAA Division I (DI; n = 199), Division II (DII; n = 67), Division III (DIII; n = 108); NAIA (n = 37); and NJCAA (n = 23) settings. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): The survey instrument contained quantitative measures and open-ended questions, with affiliation as our primary independent variable. Responses to Likert-scale questions (1 = strongly agree, 5 = strongly disagree) regarding organizational pressures within athletics served as the dependent variables. Kruskal-Wallis analysis-of-variance and Mann-Whitney U post hoc tests assessed differences in organizational conflict across affiliations. Open-ended questions were analyzed inductively.

RESULTS: We obtained a 14.47% (434 of 3000) response rate. National Collegiate Athletic Association DI ATs disagreed less than NCAA DII and DIII and NJCAA ATs that they would worry about job security if turnover in the head coaching position occurred (P <.05). Regarding the influence of coaches on job performance, differences were found between NCAA DI and DIII and between DI and NJCAA ATs (P <.01). Visibility of the injury and situational factors influenced the level of perceived pressure.

CONCLUSIONS: Athletic trainers perceived pressure from coaches regarding medical decision making. Division I ATs placed greater emphasis on the role that coaches played in their job performance and job security. Athletic departments should consider transitioning to patient-centered models of care to better align values and reduce the external pressures placed on ATs.

Language: en


interpersonal conflict; organizational structure


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