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Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department

Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Linda Webster

First Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Second Committee Member

Rachelle Hackett

Third Committee Member

Mari Irvin

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine if one company-sponsored EAP and health program influences some behaviors and lifestyle choices of employees when off the job. This study compared the perceptions of employees and management regarding what is within the “legitimate” (job-related) EAP scope. During the past four decades the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has increased in number and scope such that an estimated 50 percent of working Americans currently have access to an EAP. Designed originally to treat alcoholic workers, they now address other behavioral health problems such as drugs, family, emotional, financial and legal difficulties. In concert with EAPs, other initiatives have proliferated at the work site including health and wellness programs and drug testing policies. These convergent forces have served to create a blurring of the distinction between personal prerogatives regarding health and the work domain. What was once the province of the community—health care—has now shifted to the employer. This trend places EAP mental health practitioners, in particular, in the dual relationship of serving both client and company. Other issues which come to light include privacy, confidentiality, personal responsibility, paternalism, and de facto reinforcement of company-imposed values on the individual regarding lifestyle, fitness and even family life. The employees of a public utility in central California were surveyed. The entire population of 2,030 received the questionnaire; 575 people responded (28.3%). The findings were that all dimensions of EAP services were perceived to be job-related by a majority of the respondents. No more than 40 percent of the respondents felt that any single service was not job-related. That maximum was regarding smoking cessation. Although behavior had changed on some of the individuals as a result of EAP participation, the accompanying findings that those services were job-related nullified the distinction between behaviors at work and behaviors off the job. This raises the question of why employees think that EAP services are job-related. That and other aspects of EAP use patterns are discussed.

Pages

133

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