Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Athlete Expectation Comparison of US Athletes and European Athletes (Sports Med Res)


Monday, November 30, 2015

Athlete Expectation Comparison of US Athletes and European Athletes

Athletes’ Expectations About Sport Injury Rehabilitation: A Cross-Cultural Study

Arvinen-Barrow M, Clement D, Hamson-Utley JJ, Kaphoff C, Zakrajsek R, Lee S, Hemmings B, Lintunen T, and Martin SB.  Journal of Sport Rehabilitation.  2015.

Take Home Message:  The culture of a sport or country of origin may influence an athlete’s expectations towards sports medicine professionals during rehabilitation.

During rehabilitation, athletes may have high expectations of the clinician, rehabilitation/recovery process, and rehabilitation environment.  A patient’s expectations could influence their outcomes of a rehabilitation program. These expectations can vary from athlete to athlete and can be influenced by various factors including the athlete’s country of origin, gender, and sport played.  The authors investigated if an athlete’s expectations about sports injury rehabilitation varied by their country of residence and type of sport (physical contact or not). The Expectations about Athletic Training (EAAT) questionnaire, was created by the authors and given to collegiate athletes in the United States (US) and collegiate, professional, and recreational athletes in the United Kingdom (UK) and Finland (1209 participating athletes).  The authors found differences between countries of what an athlete expects from themselves and a sports medicine professional, but the athletes from different countries have similar expectations within each sport.  US athletes expected more from rehabilitation and their own role in the process compared with athletes from the UK and Finland. Furthermore, US athletes had higher expectations for clinicians to be honest, sincere, warm, accepting, trusting, etc.  The authors found that a sports culture (contact sports versus non-contact sport) is also a strong influence on expectations.  For example, an athlete in a sport with physical contact had higher expectancies of sports medicine professionals than a non-physical contact athlete.

Sports medical professionals need to know and understand each of their athlete’s expectations when creating the best rehabilitation program. Research has shown that injured athletes feel that their healthcare provider should acknowledge and understand their differences whether it be race, gender, country of origin, or sport played. Athletes that play sports in the United States place a higher importance on rehabilitation and the part they play in the process than that of the United Kingdom and Finland. This may be because the United States has more intense and competitive sports programs in the high school and collegiate levels. Though athletes that play sports in the United States expect more from their clinicians, the relationship between sports type (contact vs. non-contact) and expectations of clinicians remain about the same throughout different countries. Athletes that play in contact sports such as football and basketball have higher expectations of their clinician’s expertise than the non-contact athletes. Sports medicine professionals need to be able to acknowledge and understand their athletes’ differences such as race, gender, country of origin, and the type of sport they play. Secondly, clinicians need to be able to demonstrate their expertise in the recovery process to ensure that they meet the injured athlete’s expectations especially when working with contact athletes.

Question for Discussion: Should sports medicine professionals have the same expectations for contact athletes as they do non-contact athletes during rehabilitation? Should a sports medicine clinician from the US adjust their social tendencies to fit their population in a different country if that country has different expectations than US athletes?

Written by: Darrell Thompson & Virginia Lintot
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

Related Posts:
Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself: Psychological Factors Related to Return to SportPost-injury

Arvinen-Barrow M, Clement D, Hamson-Utley JJ, Kaphof C, Zakrajsek R, Lee SM, Hemmings B, Lintunen T, & Martin SB (2015). Athletes' Expectations About Sport Injury Rehabilitation: A Cross-Cultural Study. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation PMID: 26353160


Christina Hollis said...

Expectation play a huge role in health care across the world. Most athletes expect doctors and athletic trainers to have an answer and quick fix for every problem. As for expectations of the athlete, those need to remain constant across the countries and sport types. As an athletic trainer I expect each athlete to listen and comply with the rehabilitation protocol. I try and make it clear that their role is more important than mine, they are the ones doing the rehabilitation and playing the sport. I am always there for support and encouragement. That should be true when working in any country. I would change my approach slightly if working in a different country because I realize that the social norms and expectations of me are different. For example in the U.S. I would be might be more attentive and friendly to an athlete to ensure that they trust me, because this article has shown that those are important to the U.S. athlete. I understand why contact athletes would expect more because typically injuries within their sport are more severe. This does not mean that non-contact sports don't deserve the same level of knowledge and attention as the contact athlete. If the contact athlete expects more of me, I would in-turn expect more from them. There rehabilitation could last longer and be more complex than a non-contact athlete and they must be cooperative. This was a great article about difference that need to be taken into account when treating each person individually.

Jeffrey Driban said...

Thanks for the comment Christina! I think we also should consider raising expectations among those with lower expectations and ensure we meet the high expectations. Higher expectations are often related to better adherence and better buy in by the patient.

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