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88 Factors concerning school-based policy and the implementation of the NATA-IATF preseason heat acclimatization guidelines in high school football
  1. Zachary Kerr1,
  2. Melissa Kay2,
  3. Aliza Nedimyer1,
  4. Avinash Chandran1,
  5. Riana Pryor3,
  6. Douglas Casa4,
  7. Johna Register-Mihalik1
  1. 1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  2. 2University of Southern Mississippi
  3. 3SUNY Buffalo
  4. 4University of Connecticut


Statement of Purpose Our study aimed to identify factors concerning school-based policy that were associated with the implementation of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Inter-Association Task Force (IATF) preseason heat acclimatization guidelines to prevent exertional heat illness (EHI).

Methods/Approach Semi-structured phone interviews regarding implementing the NATA-IATF guidelines were conducted with a purposive sample of 33 US high school football athletic trainers (ATs; 16 male/17 female; mean age=36.4±12.5 years). Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Four progressive stages in the consensual qualitative research tradition were utilized to create a codebook. Study personnel coded interviews and held consensus meetings to resolve coding discrepancies.

Results Participants highlighted themes related to school-based policy in implementing the NATA-IATF guidelines. First, participants discussed using the NATA-IATF guidelines as primary sources to initiate and inform school-based policy; however, policy was noted needing updates to account for current EHI prevention/management best practices. Second, participants noted state laws and state-specific athletic associations (not school-based policy) were the primary resource for EHI prevention among administrators and coaches; however, these resources did not always align with best practices, creating frustration for ATs. Third, participants emphasized needing policy that included accountability and enforcement, particularly for coaches; most looked to state athletic associations and administrators for such support. Last, school-based policy seemed more beneficial when in schools located in states where NATA-IATF guidelines were mandated and when in warmer areas where there was higher perceived EHI risk.

Conclusions Gaps existing in school-based policy may affect the implementation of the NATA-IATF guidelines. Policy should be continually updated, align with best practices, and consider accountability and enforcement. Future research should also identify factors associated with disparities in implementation.

Significance/Contribution to Injury and Violence Prevention Science School-based policy may be helpful in facilitating the implementation of the NATA-IATF guidelines and thus, increasing their effectiveness in reducing EHI.

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