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DOI

10.25035/jsmahs.03.02.01

Abstract

Purpose: As healthcare and technology continue to connect in daily practice, athletic trainers (ATs) must be knowledgeable of the governing acts for ethical and legal clinical practice. This is vital to ensure ethical and legal practice as a clinician and protection of confidential protected health information (PHI). The objective of this study was to assess certified athletic trainers’ knowledge of regulations within technology and social media (SoMe). Methods: Certified ATs were recruited from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association membership database. Respondents completed an instrument of 28 questions, including 16 participant demographics, clinical site demographics, SoMe usage and general questions, and a 12-item knowledge assessment tool on a web-based survey platform. Validity of the instrument was determined through a Delphi panel of experts in athletic training, healthcare lawyers and an information technologist. We analyzed data using descriptive statistics. Results: Respondents reported a Master’s degree as their highest earned (n=106, 72.6%) with 33.6% of those degrees being at the professional level (n=49). Respondents predominately worked in the public secondary school setting (n=43, 29.5%) and worked 8-9 hours per day (n=78, 53.4%). Respondents self-reported an average of five active SoMe accounts with Facebook® (n=120,, 81.6%), LinkedIn® (n=75, 51%), Instagram® (n=70, 47.6%), Twitter® (n=70, 47.6%), Pinterest® (n=64, 43.5%), and Snapchat® (n=64, 43.5%) being the most common sites. Within their athletic training clinic, respondents predominately reported (n=76, 51.7%) that all their computers had a virtual private network, and had a SoMe policy that was enforced to some extent (n=63, 42.9%). Respondents (n=136, 92.5%) stated that they have not reported someone for a breach of HIPAA, and have not been reported themselves (n=146, 99.3%); however, respondents (n=16, 10.8%) indicated they had one or more full faced photos of patients on their SoMe accounts, breaching HIPAA. The majority of respondents have had formal education on HIPAA regulations (n=115, 78.2%). On the knowledge assessment, Respondents correctly scored 7.7±1.9 out of 12 possible points (mean score=59.2±14.5%). Conclusions: Respondents lacked the appropriate knowledge regarding HIPAA and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act regulations, and application of this knowledge within SoMe. Future research should focus on educational interventions of technology advancements for safe and legal practice as an AT.

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