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Bigger Than Sports: Athletic Trainers Urge Compliance to COVID-19 Preparedness and Safety Protocols to Protect Public Health

SOURCE: National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA)

Survey Finds that Less Than Half of Collegiate Student Athletes and Sports Staff are Fully Compliant with COVID-19 Safety Protocol

DALLAS, TX – A survey conducted by National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) found that while there may be robust COVID-19 preparedness and safety protocols in place at colleges and universities, athletic trainers are seeing concerning trends in regards to environment, supplies and adherence to policies at all levels of collegiate play. According to the survey of 1,232 collegiate athletic trainers across Division I, II, III, NAIA, and 2-year colleges, 34.76% of student athletes and less than half (46.8%) of coaches and staffers are fully following COVID-19 related safety protocols.

“The compliance of student athletes and staff to COVID-19 safety protocols is not just a sports issue; it’s a public health issue. In many cases, each person is interwoven into a larger community of students, professors, and beyond, so the results are concerning,” said NATA President, Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “It will take every member of the team – from student athletes to staff on the sidelines – to understand that noncompliance is not only a threat to the season but to mitigating the spread of COVID-19.”

Findings

  • 34.76% of student athletes are fully compliant with university and sport COVID-19 related safety protocols. 58.52% follow somewhat and 6.72% do not follow at all.
  • Less than half of coaches and staffers (46.8%) are fully compliant with university and sports COVID-19 related safety protocols with 46.23% somewhat follow safety protocols and 6.96% do not follow at all.
  • 21.38% of collegiate athletic trainers do not have access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • 13.12% of athletic trainers do not have access to adequate materials for proper sanitation.
  • 44.07% of athletic trainers feel that the environment that they are working in is safe. 46.34% of athletic trainers believe it is somewhat safe and 9.59% believe that it is not safe at all.

NATA recommends that programs consider, if not in place already, establishing a task force that includes members of the sports medicine team – such as physicians and athletic trainers – to not only oversee the COVID-19 safety protocols but also compliance and accountability. The task force should assess the processes in place as well as evaluate compliance and accountability regularly. Additionally, a culture of accountability should be integrated into sports programs with opportunities for anonymous and protected reporting of violators and violations.

The survey was developed as part of NATA’s commitment to the health and well-being of student athletes, and all patients served by more than 45,000 athletic training health care professionals throughout the world, and to arm athletic trainers with health care focused COVID-19 resources and information.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession.  Visit nata.org for more information.

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