Certified Athletic Trainers' Perspectives on Rehabilitation Adherence in Collegiate Athletic Training Settings

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

Adherence to sport-injury rehabilitation protocols may be pivotal in ensuring successful rehabilitation and return-to-play outcomes.

Objectives:

To investigate athletic trainers' perspectives related to the degree to which rehabilitation adherence is an issue in collegiate athletic training settings, gain insight from certified athletic trainers regarding the factors contributing to rehabilitation nonadherence (underadherence and overadherence), and ascertain views on the most effective means for promoting adherence.

Design:

Crosssectional, mixed methods.

Setting:

Collegiate athletic training in the United States.

Participants:

Certified athletic trainers (n = 479; 234 male, 245 female).

Main Outcome Measures:

Online survey consisting of 3 questions regarding rehabilitation adherence, each followed by an open-ended comments section. Descriptive statistics were calculated for quantitative items; hierarchical content analyses were conducted for qualitative items.

Results:

Most (98.3%) participants reported poor rehabilitation adherence to be a problem (1.7% = no problem, 29.2% = minor problem, 49.7% = problem, 19.4% = major problem), while most (98.96%) participants reported that they had athletes who exhibited poor rehabilitation adherence (1% = never, 71.4% = occasionally, 22.5% = often, 5% = always). In addition, the majority (97.91%) of participants reported that overadherence (eg, doing too much, failing to comply with activity restrictions, etc) was at least an occasional occurrence (2.1% = never, 69.3% = occasionally, 26.3% = often, 1.9% = always). Hierarchical content analyses regarding the constructs of poor adherence and overadherence revealed 4 major themes: the motivation to adhere, the development of good athletic trainer–athlete rapport and effective communication, athletic trainers' perception of the coaches' role in fostering adherence, and the influence of injury- or individual- (eg, injury severity, sport type, gender) specific characteristics on rehabilitation adherence.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that participants believe that underadherence (and to a lesser extent overadherence) is a frequent occurrence in collegiate athletic training settings. Strategies for enhancing rehabilitation adherence rates and preventing overadherence may therefore be important for optimizing rehabilitation outcomes.

Granquist is with the Dept of Kinesiology, and Engel, the Dept of Athletics, University of La Verne, La Verne, CA. Podlog and Newland are with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. Address author correspondence to Megan Granquist at mgranquist@laverne.edu.