JOURNAL ARTICLE

Athletic trainers' and physical therapists' perceptions of the effectiveness of psychological skills within sport injury rehabilitation programs

J Jordan Hamson-Utley, Scott Martin, Jason Walters
Journal of Athletic Training 2008, 43 (3): 258-64
18523575

CONTEXT: Psychological skills are alleged to augment sport-injury rehabilitation; however, implementation of mental imagery within rehabilitation programs is limited.

OBJECTIVE: To examine attitudes of athletic trainers (ATs) and physical therapists (PTs) on the effectiveness of mental imagery, goal setting, and positive self-talk to improve rehabilitation adherence and recovery speed of injured athletes.

DESIGN: The ATs and PTs were contacted via electronic or physical mailings to complete a single administration survey that measured their beliefs about the effectiveness of psychological skills for increasing adherence and recovery speed of injured athletes undergoing rehabilitation.

SETTING: Professional member databases of the National Athletic Trainers' Association and the American Physical Therapy Association.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Of the 1000 ATs and 1000 PTs who were selected randomly, 309 ATs (age = 34.18 +/- 8.32 years, years in profession = 10.67 +/- 7.34) and 356 PTs (age = 38.58 +/- 7.51 years, years in profession = 13.18 +/- 6.17) responded.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): The Attitudes About Imagery (AAI) survey measures attitudes about psychological skills for enhancing adherence and recovery speed of injured athletes. The AAI includes demographic questions and 15 items on a 7-point Likert scale measuring attitudes about the effectiveness of mental imagery, self-talk, goal setting, and pain control on rehabilitation adherence and recovery speed of injured athletes. Test-retest reliability ranged from .60 to .84 and Cronbach alphas ranged from .65 to .90. We calculated 1-way analyses of variance to determine whether differences existed in attitudes as a result of the professionals' education, training experience, and interest.

RESULTS: Mean differences were found on attitudes about effectiveness of psychological skills for those who reported formal training and those who reported interest in receiving formal training (P < .05). In addition, ATs held more positive attitudes than PTs on 9 of 15 AAI items (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, ATs and PTs held positive attitudes on the effectiveness of psychological skills to augment the rehabilitation process. Clinical implications regarding the use of mental skills are discussed.

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