Context: Socioeconomic status (SES) is a significant predictor of morbidity and mortality across health outcomes. Limited information exists on how school SES impacts athletic training practice when a certified athletic trainer (AT) is present at secondary schools.
Objective: To describe contact frequencies and service rates provided by ATs for injuries among secondary school student athletes and how these differ by school SES.
Design: Cross-sectional study
Setting: Athletic training room (ATR) visit days and AT services were collected from 77 secondary schools. Schools were separated into three school SES groups: affluent (n=31), average (n=29), and disadvantaged (n=17).
Patients or Other Participants: Secondary school student-athletes participating in 12 boys' and 11 girls' sports who visited the ATR during the 2014–2015 through 2018–2019 academic years and received athletic or non-athletic injury care.
Main Outcome Measures: Contact frequencies expressed as ATR visit days per injury, AT services per injury, and AT services per ATR visit day. Rates for service type utilized were expressed as the total count over reported athlete-exposures.
Results: ATs documented 1,191 services. Affluent and average SES school communities provided greater contact frequencies for injury related care compared to disadvantaged school communities, particularly by AT services/injury (7.10±13.08 versus average: 9.30±11.60 and affluent: 9.40±12.20; p=0.020). Affluent school communities provided greater rates of services in five of the eleven service groups reported. No significant differences were observed among school SES groups in therapeutic exercises.
Conclusions: Our findings reflect that AT practice characteristics may differ by school SES, but these differences do not appear to result in less medical care. Given the complexity and widespread effects of SES, future investigations should utilize a complex method to determine SES as well as aim to identify how SES may impact secondary school student athletes outside of AT practice characteristics.