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Health behaviors in athletic trainers

Madrak, Emily
Introduction: Athletic trainers (ATs) are healthcare professionals that care for the physically active. Because of this, it is estimated that ATs are healthy. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the benefit of health role-modeling and the beneficial effects it has on patients, but currently there is not data relating to ATs. This research explores the health behaviors that ATs demonstrate and what it means for patients.
Methods: A pilot study was first used to determine reliability. Following the pilot, a quantitative study was conducted through a self-report survey sent to a specific pool of members in the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). It measured body measurement index (BMI), physical activity (PA), diet, weight-loss dieting behavior, disordered eating behavior, and work ability.
Participants: 265 ATs (main study) met inclusion criteria for participation.
Analysis: Data was analyzed based on research question. The first asked differences between BMI, PA, and nutrition by gender, years certified, setting, and region. Analyses of variance were used to determine differences. The second used chi square test to determine differences in dieting behavior between the same demographics in research question one, and then if disordered eating patterns related with that dieting behavior. The third used ordinal regression to predict differences in work ability (physical and mental), through BMI, gender, years certified, region, and type of work.
Results: Question one demonstrated significance with gender and BMI, and light PA and setting. Females had a lower BMI than males, but no differences were observed with setting due to low power. The second question also demonstrated significance with: "Have you dieted?" and females, "how long have you kept the weight off?" and greater than 20 years certified, "are you currently on a diet?" and a greater disordered eating score, "have you ever dieted?" and a greater disordered eating score, and "how long did you keep the weight off?" and a greater disordered eating score.
Conclusion: Though ATs may work with a physically active population, they appear to be "cutting corners" when it comes to their own health. This may reflect poorly on patient adherence and health due to poor health role-modeling.