Athletic Trainers’ Perceptions of and Experience with Social Determinants of Health

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


The role that social determinants of health (SDHs) play in athletic healthcare is gaining attention, yet little is known about athletic trainers’ (ATs) perceptions of and encounters with the impact of SDHs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate ATs’ perceptions of various SDHs and their experience treating patients whose health and well-being were influenced by SDHs. This was a cross-sectional, web-based survey completed by 1694 ATs (completion rate = 92.6%; 61.1% female; age = 36.6 ± 10.8 years). The survey consisted of several multipart questions focusing on specific SDHs. Descriptive statistics were used to report frequencies and percentages. Results indicated widespread agreement that SDHs matter to patient health and are of concern in athletic healthcare. The SDHs that ATs most commonly reported encountering included lifestyle choices (n = 1306/1406; 93.0%), social support (n = 1185/1427; 83.0%), income (n = 1167/1502; 77.7%), and access to quality and timely healthcare (n = 1093/1420, 77.0%). The SDHs that ATs least commonly reported having experience with was governmental policy (n = 684/1411; 48%). The perceived importance of SDHs among ATs and their commonly reported experiences managing patient cases in which SDHs negatively influence patients’ health and healthcare suggest that efforts to assess these factors are needed so that strategies to address their influence on athletic healthcare can be identified.



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