Athletic trainers' reasons for and mechanics of documenting patient care: A report from the athletic training practice-based research network

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Journal of Athletic Training


Context: Documenting patient care is an important responsibility of athletic trainers (ATs). However, little is known about ATs' reasons for documenting patient care and the mechanics of completing documentation tasks. Objective: To understand ATs' perceptions about reasons for and the mechanics of patient care documentation. Design: Qualitative study. Setting: Individual telephone interviews with Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network members. Patients or Other Participants: Ten ATs employed in the secondary school setting (age = 32.6 6 11.4 years, athletic training experience = 7.1 6 7.8 years) were recruited using a criterion-based sampling technique. Participants were Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network members who used the Clinical Outcomes Research Education for Athletic Trainers electronic medical record system and practiced in 6 states. Data Collection and Analysis: We used the consensual qualitative research tradition. One investigator conducted individual telephone interviews with each participant. Data collection was considered complete after the research team determined that data saturation was reached. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and independently analyzed by 4 research team members following the process of open, axial, and selective coding. After independently categorizing interview responses into categories and themes, the members of the research team developed a consensus codebook, reanalyzed all interviews, and came to a final agreement on the findings. Trustworthiness was established through multiple-analyst triangulation and member checking. Results: Participants identified 3 reasons for documenting patient care: communication, monitoring patient care, and legal implications. Four subcategories emerged from the mechanicsof-documentation theme: location, time of day, length of time, and criteria for documenting. The ATs described different criteria for documenting patient care, ranging from documenting every injury in the same manner to documenting time-loss and followup injuries differently. Conclusions: Whereas ATs recognized individual mechanisms that enabled them to document patient care, they may need more guidance on the appropriate criteria for documenting various patient care encounters and strategies to help them document more effectively.

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