Fifty years of employee assistance programs: global findings and future directions

Ann Roche, Victoria Kostadinov, Jacqui Cameron, Alice McEntee, Ken Pidd

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Introduction and Aims: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are increasingly utilised in many countries and have become accepted as an effective way to improve employee wellbeing. The first EAPs began as occupational alcohol programs in the United States, largely staffed by volunteers with lived experience of problematic alcohol use. Since that time, EAPs have evolved and bear little resemblance to this early model. In order to gain a better understanding of the past, present and future of EAPs globally, an examination of their historical development is vital to understand why particular elements are present today, how they have developed and how this may change in the future.

    Design and Methods: A mixed-method study design with three components included: (i) systematic literature review; (ii) international key informant interviews; and (iii) international survey.

    Key Findings: The systematic review (n=325) found little high-quality research. Triangulation of interview (n=10) and survey data (n=74) identified nine key themes, including: (i) evolution; (ii) changes in business models; (iii) technology; (iv) services offered, (v) key drivers; (vi) commercialisation; (vii) service delivery; (viii) effectiveness; and (ix) limitations. Our findings indicate that EAPs have dramatically altered over time as they have adapted and responded to an evolving marketplace, however, they continue to play a vital role in supporting workers and workplaces.

    Discussions and Conclusions: EAPs ultimately seek to improve employee wellbeing however, large variations exist between countries. As a result, EAPs offered in different countries, regions, or even companies may share relatively little in common except a name.

    Disclosure of Interest Statement: This project was funded by the Employee Assistance Research Foundation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


    • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
    • occupational alcohol programs
    • occupational drug programs
    • employee wellbeing


    Dive into the research topics of 'Fifty years of employee assistance programs: global findings and future directions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this