Role Strain, Part 2: Perceptions Among Athletic Trainers Employed in the Professional Practice Setting


Athletic Training


Context: Athletic trainers (ATs) employed in the professional sport setting (ATPSSs) demonstrate moderate to high degrees of role strain. The experiences and perceptions of these ATs provide insight regarding the sources of role strain as well as ways to reduce it.

Objective: To investigate the perceptions of ATPSSs regarding role strain.

Design: Qualitative study.

Patients or Other Participants: From a purposeful sampling of 389 ATs employed in the 5 major sport leagues (Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League), we identified 34 participants willing to participate in phone interviews.

Data Collection and Procedures: Semistructured phone interviews. Inductive data analysis was based on a grounded theory approach. Credibility was addressed with member checks and a peer debriefing.

Results: Three first-order emergent themes materialized from the data: (1) sources of role strain, (2) consequences of role strain, and (3) strategies to alleviate role strain in ATPSSs. Participants described the antecedents of role strain as emerging from the competing expectations of the professional athlete, the organization, and the sport league. Consequences of role strain included effects on direct patient care and work-life imbalance. Improving organizational factors such as inadequate staffing and poor communication within the organization were strategies described by participants for decreasing role strain in the professional sports setting.

Conclusions: Our participants discussed experiencing role strain, which was facilitated by trying to meet the competing demands placed on them with limited time and often with an inadequate support staff. Participant role strain affected health care and contributed to work-life imbalance. Participants described changing the organizational factors that contributed to role strain as a strategy to alleviate the perceived stress.

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Publication Date

Fall 2-1-2020

Publication Title

Journal of Athletic Training









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