Collegiate Athletic Trainers' Experiences with Work-family Conflict and Work-family Guilt Based Upon Organizational Factors

J Athl Train. 2021 Mar 31. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-0697.20. Online ahead of print.


Context: The collegiate athletic setting has been described as having high workloads and working demands. The extensive time commitment required of athletic trainers working in this setting has been identified as a precursor to work-family conflict (WFC) and work-family guilt (WFG). Though individualized, experiences in the work-life interface can largely be impacted by organizational factors (i.e., elements specific to the workplace). While staff size and patient load may influence the athletic trainer's feelings of WFC and WFG, these factors have not been directly studied.

Objective: Our purpose was to examine organizational factors and experiences of WFC and WFG among collegiate athletic trainers.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Collegiate setting.

Participants: 615 (female=391, gender variant/non-conforming=1, male=222, preferred not to answer=1) athletic trainers responded to an online survey. The average age of participants was 33 ± 9 years, and they were BOC certified for 10 ± 8 years. 352 participants (57.2%) worked in the DI setting, 99 in DII (16.1%), and 164 in DIII (26.7%).

Main outcome measure(s): Participants responded to demographic and workplace characteristic questions (organizational infrastructure, staff size, and number of varsity-level athletic teams). Individuals completed WFC and WFG scales that have been previously validated and used in the athletic trainer population.

Results: Work-family conflict and WFG were universally experienced among our participants with WFC scores predicting WFG scores. Participants reported higher time-based conflict than strain or behavior-based conflict. No significant differences in WFC and WFG scores were found between organizational infrastructures. Weak positive correlations were found between staff size and WFC scores and WFG scores. The number of athletic teams was not associated with WFC or WFG scores.

Conclusions: Organizational factors are an important component of the work-life interface. From an organizational perspective, focusing on improving work-life balance for the athletic trainer can help mitigate experiences with WFC and WFG.

Keywords: balance; structural variables; work-life interface.