Practitioner, Coach, and Athlete Perceptions of Evidence-Based Practice in Professional Sport in Australia

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To examine practitioners’, coaches’, and athletes’ perceptions of evidence-based practice (EBP) in professional sport in Australia. Methods: One hundred thirty-eight participants (practitioners n = 67, coaches n = 39, and athletes n = 32) in various professional sports in Australia each completed a group-specific online questionnaire. Questions focused on perceptions of research, the contribution of participants’ own experience in implementing knowledge to practice, sources, and barriers for accessing and implementing EBP, preferred methods of feedback, and the required qualities of practitioners. Results: All practitioners reported using EBP, while most coaches and athletes believed that EBP contributes to individual performance and preparation (>85%). Practitioners’ preferred EBP information sources were “peer-reviewed journals” and “other practitioners within their sport,” while athlete sources were “practitioners within their sport” and “other athletes within their sport.” As primary barriers to accessing and implementing research, practitioners highlighted “time constraints,” “poor research translation,” and “nonapplicable research.” Practitioners ranked “informal conversation” as their most valued method of providing feedback; however, coaches prefer feedback from “scheduled meetings,” “online reports,” or “shared database.” Both athletes and coaches value “excellent knowledge of the sport,” “experience,” and “communication skills” in practitioners disseminating EBP. Conclusion: Practitioners, coaches, and athletes believe in the importance of EBP to their profession, although practitioners reported several barriers to accessing and implementing research as part of EBP. Athletes place a high value on experienced practitioners who have excellent knowledge of the sport and communication skills. Collectively, these findings can be used to further stakeholder understanding regarding EBP and the role of research to positively influence athlete health.

Schwarz, Duffield, and Fullagar are with the School of Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Schwarz and Skorski are with the Inst of Sports and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. Harper is with the Dept of Allied Health Professions, Sport and Exercise, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom. McCunn is with the Heart of Midlothian FC, Edinburgh, Scotland. Govus is with Sport and Exercise Science, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Fullagar (Hugh.Fullagar@uts.edu.au) is corresponding author.

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