Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences


Health and Medical Sciences


Michelle D'Abundo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deborah DeLuca, JD

Committee Member

Genevieve Zipp, Ed.D.


evidence-based practice, diffusion of innovation, qualitative research


Background: The governing bodies of athletic training have been putting an emphasis on evidence-based practice (EBP) through college curriculum changes and continuing education requirements. Research has shown these interventions are increasing knowledge, but there is still a knowledge to practice gap.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the decisions involved in EBP adoption by practicing athletic trainers (ATs).

Methods: This study utilized a general qualitative approach that was exploratory in nature. Fifteen participants participated in the study, and all were practicing certified athletic trainers who stated they were using EBP when making treatment decisions.

Data Collection and Analysis: Data was collected using one-on-one phone interviews with a semi-structured interview guide. Interview questions were aimed to understand how participants first became familiar with EBP, what they like about it, and what played a role in their decision to adopt it. Constant comparative coding was used for data analysis, and all codes emerged from the data rather than using a preset list of codes. The Five Stages of the Innovation-Decision Process was used as the theoretical framework to guide the research, and the lens to interpret the data.

Results: Following data analysis, eight themes emerged that influenced the decision to adopt EBP. These themes included: learning about EBP, EBP is important for the profession, healthcare changes and EBP helps to stay current, culture of support, barriers to EBP, decision making backed by research, there are many benefits to using EBP, and balancing components of EBP. The theoretical framework was used as a lens to interpret the findings, and themes fit under the first four stages of the innovation-decision process.

Conclusions: The results of the study showed that participants found many benefits to using EBP including better treatments, quicker return to play, confidence, and improved relationships and communication. Support in the workplace and through mentors also plays an important role in EBP adoption. Developing continuing education and other interventions that focus on ways to overcome barriers and implement EBP into decision making may help ATs who are still struggling with utilization.