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Patient-Centered Athletic Training: Issues in Clinical Practice, Research, and Education

The provision of clinical services that are both evidence-based and patient-centered requires consideration of numerous factors that can influence a patients health status and well-being (Bardes, 2012; Haynes, et al., 2002; Bensing, 2000). Athletic trainers are often confronted with an ethical dilemma when an athletes health interests, psychosocial needs, or personal preferences conflict with a coachs expectations, which can also affect the athletic trainers relationship with the physician who ultimately has legal responsibility for the injured athletes welfare (Creighton, et al., 2010). The athletic trainers relationship to a team physician has historically been vaguely defined in many situations, whereas job security and professional advancement have often depended on relationships with coaches and athletic program administrators. Many athletic trainers readily identify themselves as health care professionals, while opposing implementation of more stringent educational requirements and practice standards that characterize closely related clinical disciplines. Clinical epidemiology concepts that are increasingly influencing health care decision-making need to be better understood by clinicians, researchers, and educators in athletic training and multi-center cohort studies are needed to provide quantifiable estimates of the likelihood that a given approach to clinical management of a specified condition will yield a positive outcome (Childs and Cleland, 2006). Numerous interrelated issues affecting the future of the athletic training profession could be simultaneously addressed through better integration of clinical services, educational programming, and research initiatives. Furthermore, a high degree of physician involvement is needed in any administrative matters that affect the quality of patient-centered care delivered by the sports medicine team.

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