Integrating Evidence-Based Practice in Athletic Training: Suggestions for Managing the Transition

Integrating Evidence-Based Practice in Athletic Training: Suggestions for Managing the Transition

Brittany A. Vorndran (Seton Hall University, USA) and Michelle Lee D'Abundo (Seton Hall University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch095


Evidence-based practice (EBP) involves a health care professional using his or her own knowledge, the current research published, and the needs of the patient to make the best clinical decision. This has been a hot topic in many different branches of healthcare and recently athletic trainers have begun to embrace its importance. In December of 2015, athletic trainers (ATs) will need to have completed ten of their fifty continuing education units (CEUs) in EBP to maintain certification. While ATs recognize the significance of implementing EBP into clinical decision making, there are many barriers slowing the change. This chapter includes information about how EBP is currently being used by athletic training clinicians and educators, the barriers ATs perceive to using EBP, the importance of using EBP, and managing the transition needed to successfully adopt the use of EBP.
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One thing that is consistent about health care and the associated health professions is that things are always changing. As challenges persist such as rising health care costs, an aging population and the need to treat increasing numbers of people with chronic health conditions, the field of health care must continue to explore ways to deliver quality care while reducing costs. Like many other health care professions, athletic training has turned to evidence-based practice to assure that athletic trainers are trained to deliver the highest quality of care in the most efficient way to their patients. The transition to integrating evidence-based practice can be challenging and will require a massive diffusion of innovation throughout the field of athletic training.

Athletic trainers (ATs) are defined as “health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs work under the direction of physicians, as prescribed by state licensure statutes” (Profile of athletic trainers, 2014, para. 1). Despite being recognized as health care professionals by the American Medical Association (AMA), the general public often confuses ATs with personal trainers or physical education teachers. It is not uncommon for an AT to be asked the best ways to lose weight or the proper form of a squat. More than 70% of certified athletic trainers currently hold a master’s degree (Education overview, 2014, para. 1). The profession of athletic training is constantly growing, and athletic trainers can be found in many different settings. The traditional settings you would find an AT are in a school such as a high school or college working with the athletic teams, but they can also be found in the military, Cirque du Soleil, in companies working to enhance wellness of the employees, and even Disney Land (Emerging settings, 2016). Despite the breadth of employment opportunities other individuals in the health care industry are also unfamiliar with what an AT does and it is apparent that athletic training as a profession is still lagging behind other allied health professions (Hankemeier & Van Lunen, 2013a).

In order to change the perceptions of ATs to the public, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is introducing the use of evidence-based practice (EBP) in both academia and the education of new ATs, and in the clinical setting with athletic trainers already working in the field (Hankemeier & Van Lunen, 2013; Hankemeier et al., 2013; McCarty Hankemeir, Walter, Newton, & Van Lunen, 2013; Welch, Van Lunen, & Hankemeier, 2014b). There are many benefits to increasing the use of evidence-based medicine (EBM). One reason that is frequently discussed is improving both the image and recognition of athletic trainers as health care professionals and not personal trainers, physical education teachers, or the people carrying water bottles on the sideline of games. Other benefits to using EBM include improving the care provided to the patients and justifying third party reimbursement (McCarthy et al., 2013; Welch et al., 2014a). Changes are being made to the curriculum of programs and what students are required to learn. The governing body in charge of athletic training education programs has mandated that all programs must teach EBP to the students in the program (Hankemeier & Van Lunen, 2013; McCarthy et al., 2013; Welch et al., 2014b). Furthermore, all certified ATs must complete continuing education units (CEUs) every three years to maintain certification. This has been in effect since 1973 and was originally mandated to promote attendance at the national conference and to encourage the idea that athletic training is a field with ever changing research and requires dedicated lifetime learning (Cuppett, 2001). Despite CEUs being a stipulation for many years, the reporting period in December of 2015 was the first time all certified athletic trainers were required to have ten CEUs come from an evidence-based practice category in order to maintain certification.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Translation: A dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically-sound application of knowledge to improve the health of patients, provide more effective health services and products, and strengthen the health care system (Graham et al., 2006 AU28: The in-text citation "Graham et al., 2006" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Transitions: Change processes that involve a beginning, middle, and an end.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA): A professional membership association serving certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession in the United States.

Athletic Trainers (ATs): Health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions (Profile of athletic trainers, 2014, para. 1).

Continuing Education: Education provided for adults after they have left the formal education system, consisting typically of short or part-time courses.

Evidence-Based Practice: Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients ( Sackett et al., 1996 ).

Allied Health: The segment of the workforce that delivers services involving the identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; and rehabilitation and health systems management.

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