Date of Award


Degree Name

Educational Leadership


Graduate School of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dennis M. Anderson

Second Advisor

Edna Meisel

Third Advisor

Phil Rutsohn

Fourth Advisor

Louis Watts


The purpose of this study was to evaluate athletic trainers’ current knowledge levels of health literacy and health literacy intervention techniques. This study was conducted using a mixed-method; non-experimental, descriptive research design which included a researcher-generated quantitative survey and 18 ethnographic interviews. Quantitative surveys were distributed electronically, via Survey Monkey, by the athletic training Board of Certification to 5453 certified athletic trainers from West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Also, interview participants (9 male; 9 female) were randomly selected and included three athletic trainers from each of the six states, three employment settings (Clinic, College, and High School), and varying levels of education and athletic training experience. The total sample for the quantitative portion of this study was 419. Quantitative data gathered from survey responses were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics and qualitative data were evaluated through the systematic coding of responses to identify trends and themes. Quantitative data analysis revealed significant differences (p < .05) between sex, primary job title, and highest level of education completed and measured knowledge of health literacy. However, each significant finding was accompanied by a small effect size. Quantitative frequency data on measured health literacy knowledge that aligned with qualitative data indicated that participants had above average knowledge on the use of basic language and lower knowledge levels regarding limiting concepts and accurate patient indicators of low or limited health literacy. Qualitative data analysis revealed five overarching trends that centered on: (a) substantial exposure to patient-athletic trainer interactions during clinical education but limited didactic education, (b) open, honest, and customized communication with patients, (c) use of plain language and shared larger quantities of information, (d) patient retention of information concerns, (e) limited awareness of the term health literacy, prevalence of health literacy, and characteristics associated with low or limited health literacy. In conclusion, although athletic trainers generally understood and utilized plain language when communicating with patients it appears that there is a need for athletic trainers to better understand health literacy and integrate health literacy intervention techniques, in particular teach back and limiting concepts, during patient interactions.


Athletic trainers -- Training of.

Health literacy.