Secondary School Athletic Trainers' Experiences With Organizational Conflict: A Comparison Across Employment Models

Alicia M.Pike Lacy, Thomas G. Bowman, Robert A. Huggins, Monica R. Lininger, Craig R. Denegar, Douglas J. Casa, Stephanie M. Singe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Context: Athletic training is a multifaceted profession characterized by interpersonal relationships and a team approach to care. Collaborative relationships, by nature, open the door to conflict, which has been reported frequently in the collegiate athletic setting. However, secondary school athletic trainers' (ATs') experiences with conflict and pressure in their role are not readily understood. Objective: To measure the extent and sources of stress, pressure, and conflict within the secondary school athletic training setting and determine if differences exist across employment characteristics. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Secondary school athletics. Patients or Other Participants: Secondary school ATs (n= 725, age = 39.8 ± 10.5 years, years certified = 16.7 ± 9.7, years in current role = 10.6 ± 7.8). Main Outcome Measures: Participants were asked to reply to an online questionnaire with quantitative measures pertaining to organizational conflict and workplace dynamic. Employment type (school district employee, school district teacher, medical or university facility, independent contractor) and status (full time, part time) served as independent variables. Likert-scale scores (1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree; 1 = always to 5 = never) and perceived sources of stress, pressure, and conflict were the dependent variables. Analyses consisted of Kruskal- Wallis tests with Mann-Whitney U post hoc tests and odds ratios to assess associations between variables of interest. Results: We obtained a 15.3% response rate (725/4745). Although the ATs reported experiencing conflict and pressure, these experiences were relatively infrequent and not universal. Compared with part-time ATs, full-time ATs described higher ratings of strong relationships with coaches (P = .003) and principals (P = .002). The most frequently identified sources of conflict were parents (59%) and coaches (53.9%), followed by athletes (32.6%). Full-time ATs were 1.6 times more likely to report experiencing conflict with a coach than part-time ATs (odds ratio = 1.550, 95% CI = 1.037, 2.317; P = .040). Conclusions: Secondary school ATs' experiences regarding organizational conflict were relatively positive. Instances of pressure and conflict were noted, though relatively infrequently, and these experiences were largely uninfluenced by employment type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1093
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of athletic training
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • interpersonal conflict
  • job-related stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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