The Role of Title 1 Secondary School Athletic Trainers in the Primary and Patient-Centered Care of Low Socioeconomic Adolescents

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Athletic trainers (ATs) provide regular encounters with a healthcare provider for many Title 1 student–athletes with healthcare access and quality barriers. Thus, they are uniquely positioned to serve as a student–athletes’ first point of contact for general medical concerns. This study aimed to describe ATs’ experiences providing primary care for Title 1 student–athletes. This qualitative design employing an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach used in-depth, virtual focus groups to examine the experiences of ATs practicing at Title 1 secondary schools. The findings reveal that ATs were called upon to evaluate, treat, and, when necessary, refer student–athletes with general medical conditions. However, Title 1 ATs encountered numerous complex social determinants of health (SDoH) preventing efficient and effective referral to specialty healthcare providers. Thus, ATs ultimately felt their most important roles in the primary care of low socioeconomic adolescents were as caregivers who mitigated avoidable healthcare barriers in addition to coordinators of integrated care that assisted student–athletes and their families with navigating the healthcare system. Title I ATs need to be aware of the SDoH affecting their student–athletes and the ability of those SDoH to affect health outcomes as well as overall student–athlete health and well-being.



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