Understanding athletic trainers' beliefs toward a multifacted sport-related concussion approach: application of the theory of planned behavior

J Athl Train. 2013 Sep-Oct;48(5):636-44. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.3.10. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


Context: Practice guidelines recommend a multifaceted approach for managing concussions, but a relatively small percentage of athletic trainers (ATs) follow these recommendations. Understanding ATs' beliefs toward the recommended concussion practice guidelines is the first step in identifying interventions that could increase compliance. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) allows us to measure ATs' beliefs toward the recommended concussion practice guidelines.

Objective: To examine the influence of ATs' beliefs toward the current recommended concussion guidelines on concussion-management practice through an application of the TPB.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: A Web link with a survey was e-mailed to 1000 randomly selected members of the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA).

Patients or other participants: A total of 221 certified ATs working in secondary school/clinic, high school, and college/university settings.

Main outcome measure(s): A 66-item survey reflecting the current recommended concussion guidelines of the NATA and International Conference on Concussion in Sport was created to measure beliefs using the TPB constructs attitude toward the behavior (BA), subjective norms (SN), perceived behavioral control (PBC), and behavioral intention (BI) of ATs. We used a linear multiple regression to determine if the TPB constructs BA, SN, and PBC predicted BI and if PBC and BI predicted behavior according to the TPB model.

Results: We found that BA, SN, and PBC predicted BI (R = 0.683, R(2) = 0.466, F3,202 = 58.78, P < .001). The BA (t202 = 5.53, P < .001) and PBC (t202 = 9.64, P < .001) contributed to the model, whereas SN (t202 = -0.84, P = .402) did not. The PBC and BI predicted behavior (R = 0.661, R(2) = 0.437, F2,203 = 78.902, P < .001).

Conclusions: In this sample, the TPB constructs predicted BI and behavior of ATs' compliance with recommended concussion-management guidelines. The BA and PBC were the most influential constructs, indicating that those with positive attitudes toward concussion-management recommendations are more likely to implement them, and ATs are less likely to implement them when they do not believe they have the power to do so. We theorize that interventions targeting ATs' attitudes and control perceptions will lead to improved compliance.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Behavior Control / methods*
  • Brain Concussion / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Faculty*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Sports
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*