The national sports safety in secondary schools benchmark (N4SB) study: Defining athletic training practice characteristics

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Journal of Athletic Training


Context: Increased rates of sport participation and sportrelated injury have led to greater emphasis on and attention to medical care of student-athletes in the secondary school setting. Access to athletic training services is seen as a critical factor for delivering adequate injury prevention and medical care to student-athletes. However, few data are available regarding practice characteristics of athletic trainers (ATs) in this setting. Objective: To characterize the practices of secondary school athletic trainers (ATs). Design: Descriptive study. Setting: Web-based survey. Patients or Other Participants: A total of 17 558 ATs with current National Athletic Trainers' Association membership were identified for survey distribution. Of these, 4232 ATs indicated that they practiced in the secondary school setting, and 4045 completed some part of the survey. Main Outcome Measure(s): A Web-based survey was used to obtain demographic information about ATs and their secondary schools and characteristics of athletic training practice. Descriptive data regarding the athletic trainer's personal characteristics, secondary school characteristics, and practice patterns are reported as percentages and frequencies. Results: Most respondents were in the early stages of their careers and relatively new to the secondary school practice setting. Nearly two-thirds (62.4%; n = 2522) of respondents had 10 or fewer years of experience as secondary school ATs, 52% (n=2132) had been certified for 10 or fewer years, and 53.4% (n = 2164) had 10 or fewer years of experience in any practice setting. The majority of respondents (85%) worked in public schools with enrollment of 1000 to 1999 (35.5%) and with football (95.5%). More than half of respondents were employed directly by their school. Most respondents (50.6%) reported an athletic training budget of less than $4000. The majority of ATs performed evaluations (87.5%) on-site all of the time, with a smaller percentage providing treatments (73.3%) or rehabilitation (47.4%) services all of the time. Conclusions: This is the first study to describe secondary school athletic training that reflects national practice trends. To improve the quality of athletic training care and to support and improve current working conditions, the profession must examine how its members practice on a day-to-day basis. © by the National Athletic Trainers' Association, Inc.

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