Context: Work-life balance is a topic of interest in the athletic training profession. Particularly for parents, managing work and home roles can be challenging. Social support has been identified as resource to improve athletic trainers' balance and quality of life and warrants further investigation. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the sources and perceptions of social support among athletic trainers with children. Design: Qualitative study. Setting: Collegiate and secondary school settings. Participants: 32 athletic trainers working in the collegiate (12) and secondary school (20) settings participated in our study. All participants (19 female, 13 male) were parents and ranged from 25 to 72 years of age with 2–52 years of experience as an athletic trainer. Data Collection and Analysis: Participants were recruited from a larger cross-sectional survey. A semi-structured interview was developed by the research team and reviewed by a peer expert in the field. Participants completed the interview protocol which included questions from numerous areas related to work-life balance. Data analyses were guided by research questions related to social support and used a phenomenological approach. The researchers immersed themselves in the data and engaged in a coding process. Researcher triangulation and peer review were used to establish credibility.
Results: Analyses revealed that our participants found social support in their work and home lives. Support was described by source (e.g., supervisors, coworkers, spouses, family, friends) and type (e.g., emotional, tangible, network). Participants perceived that support stemmed from understanding, flexibility, sharing responsibilities, and shared life experiences which aided in balancing their roles.
Conclusions: Athletic trainers valued social support and utilized different types of support to help create work-life balance. Support in the workplace, at home, and from the profession is necessary for athletic trainers who are parents as it provides a means to help balance roles and responsibilities.