Funded Research: Previous Research Efforts
On July 17, 2013, the Foundation announced the winner of its most recent call for proposals:
The OMNI Institute, based in Denver, CO, received a $100,000 grant, plus 12% for indirect costs, to conduct an evaluation study designed to quantify the impact of Employee Assistance Program services on employee productivity. For this study, OMNI Institute will partner with the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program (C-SEAP) and the University of Colorado, Boulder. C-SEAP provides a full range of services to Colorado State employees. The services include counseling, referral, management consultation, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and mediation, and organizational development. Colorado-based OMNI Institute is a nonprofit social science agency that supports nonprofits, foundations and government agencies in a wide variety of project areas, such as Public and Behavioral Health, Justice, Youth Development, Early Childhood, Education, and Systems Development.
The study will employ a prospective, quasi-experimental design that matches C-SEAP participants with a comparison group of government employees who complete a survey but have not participated in C-SEAP. The groups will be matched using propensity-score techniques on key covariates (e.g., pre-intervention measures of absenteeism, reasons for seeking EAP) to reduce selection bias and enhance internal validity. Validated self-report measures of absenteeism, presenteeism and workplace distress will be collected from study participants pre- and post-services. Timecard data will be utilized as an objective measure of absenteeism, and departmental salary and benefit data will be used to estimate the cost offset from reduced absenteeism. Study activities began in August, 2013, and enrollment and baseline data collection will begin October, 2013. A summary description of the study is available here.
Melissa Richmond, PhD, Director of Research and Evaluation at OMNI, will serve as the study’s Principal Investigator. Dr. Richmond oversees a number of state and locally funded research and evaluation projects, including the evaluation of the SBIRT (screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment) Colorado initiative. Dr. Richmond is a published author in scientific journals such as the Journal of Family Psychology and Substance Abuse.
Dr. Fred Pampel, Research Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science, will also serve as Co-investigator and statistical and design consultant on the project. Dr. Pampel is a senior sociologist and the author of 14 books and 60 peer-reviewed research articles on topics related to health, inequality, and research methods.
On March 14, 2011, two organizations received the Foundation’s first research grants:
The National Behavioral Consortium (NBC), led by Dr. Stan Granberry, was awarded a grant for its proposal, “Comparative Metrics for the External EAP field.” NBC is a nonprofit trade association comprised of member companies representing EAP, managed behavioral health, and work-life firms throughout the US and other countries. The study sought to answer the following research questions: What are the characteristics of external EAP providers? What are the characteristics of the client companies served? What were the characteristic utilization patterns of these employee clients? And, how do these characteristics compare across EA vendors?
The study gathered a wide range of survey responses from external EA providers in the following categories: a) provider characteristics–organizational type, years in business, market locale, primary services offered, and staffing; b) employer client measures–number of clients, covered employees, and covered lives; c) provider service measures–pricing models and contract administration types; and d) program utilization measures–definitions and numbers of cases, volume of counseling and organizational services provided, gender and employee case mix, counseling case completion rate, and referral sources. The study’s findings report comparative metrics and characteristics of external EAP vendors located in North America and 10 other countries. Data were collected from 82 external EA providers under contract by 29,000 client work organizations, and representing an estimated 146 million covered lives.
Research results from the NBC Benchmarking study were presented at the Employee Assistance Professionals Association’s 2013 Annual World EAP Conference, the Employee Assistance Society of North America’s 2013 Institute, and the Employee Assistance Roundtable. A slide show of the study findings is available here.
A peer-reviewed article of the study results was published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health: Mark Attridge PhD, MA, Terry Cahill LCSW, Stanford W. Granberry PhD & Patricia A. Herlihy PhD, RN The National Behavioral Consortium Industry Profile of External EAP Vendors.
A peer-reviewed article of the study results specific to the Canadian External EAP market entitled The Canadian National Behavioral Consortium Industry Profile of External EAP Vendors was authored by Rick Csiernik, MSW, PhD, RSW, David Sharar PhD and Stanford W. Granberry PhD and published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health in 2014.
A secondary analysis of data provided the initial examination of comparative metrics pertaining to Canadian employee assistance program (EAP) vendors. Contracts held by the 12 participating organizations ranged from 10 to 6,500 with lives covered ranging from 300,000 to 6.3 million, underscoring not only the diverse nature of EAP vendors in Canada but issues with comparing data among such vastly different providers. The most prominent model of service provision was capped EAP counseling which led to an average of 3.1 counseling sessions per client with only one vendor having a mean of greater than four. The majority of counseling offered through Canadian EAP vendors is provided by fee for service affiliate counselors. All client satisfaction scores were positive; however, the vast majority of clients did not complete any type of evaluation leaving both EAP vendors and client organizations with no substantive knowledge of the impact of the service. In the comparatively small EAP market that Canada represents, it was not surprising to learn that the greatest business concern of the vendors was product pricing, especially as ten percent of EAP services were being provided as part of larger bundled benefits plans and thus there was no actual direct cost for the EAP.
Abstract: It is common practice in many professions, fields, and industries to disseminate comparative information. Absent this vital resource an individual company cannot accurately evaluate their performance against a similar cohort and therefore must rely upon anecdotal information. The findings of this study address this deficiency in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) field by reporting empirically derived comparative data for external providers of EAP services. During 2012 the National Behavioral Consortium obtained a convenience sample of 82 external EAP vendors, located primarily in the United States and Canada and 10 other countries and ranging in size from local providers to global business enterprises. The combined customer base represented by these vendors included more than 35,000 client companies and over 164 million total covered lives. The 44 survey items addressed eight categories: (1) company profile, (2) staffing, (3) customer profile, (4) utilization metrics, (5) survey tools and outcomes, (6) business management, (7) business development, and (8) forecasting the future of EAP. Results reveal a wide range between vendors on most of these factors. Comparisons were also conducted between vendors based on market size, country, and pricing model. Implications for operational practice and business development are discussed along with considerations for future research.
ISW Limits (the Institute for Stress and Work) and the University of Leuven, Belgium, and co-led by Dr. Debora Vansteenwegen and Dr. Manuel Sommer, of Clinica CAPA and the Universidade Autónoma (UAL) in Lisbon, Portugal , was awarded a grant for their proposal, “EAP in Continental Europe: State of the Art and Future Challenges.” This research project will survey employers and employees in six different European countries, examining the characteristics of existing Employee Assistance Programs and looking at future needs tailored to the European situation.
In 2015, a peer-reviewed article of the study findings, entitled Eureka: An Employee Services Perception Study in Continental Europe authored by Debora Vansteenwegen PhD, Manuel Sommer PhD, Dirk Antonissen MA, Tito Laneiro PhD and Odete Nunes was published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health.
The EUREKA research study, based on an originally developed comprehensive Employee Services Questionnaire, assessed current and desired services in the Employee Assistance (EA) field in six Eurozone countries (three northern European countries [Belgium, France, and The Netherlands] and three southern European countries [Portugal, Spain, and Greece]). A total of 327 participants completed the online questionnaire. Several relevant and interesting findings about the prevalence and needs of EA-type services in several industry grouping and different cultural settings could be determined. These results can help shape the responses from Employee Assistance Program providers attending to different European cultural and economic realities.