Evaluation of a workplace alcohol and other drug program

December 2018
Roche, A., Kostadinov, V., McEntee, A., Allan, J., Meumann, N., & McLaughlin, L. (2018). Evaluation of a workshop to address drugs and alcohol in the workplace. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Early view online, 1-13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-05-2018-0064

Risky AOD use in workplaces is pervasive in some workplace cultures and is often associated with risks to the health, safety and productivity of workers and organisations. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of worker health, safety and wellbeing for organisational functioning.

To address these issues, a drug and alcohol first aid training program designed specifically for workplace managers and supervisors was developed by Lyndon (Lives Lived Well in New South Wales). The program is designed to increase knowledge about AOD, patterns of use, evidence-based methods for responding to employee AOD use, and strategies to reduce the stigma associated with AOD.

The current study undertaken by NCETA, in collaboration with Lives Lived Well, sought to evaluate the training program’s efficacy. A purpose-designed self-report survey comprising established scales assessed participants’ knowledge about AOD use in the workplace. The survey was administered to program participants before (T1), immediately after (T2), and three months following program completion (T3). Changes in program managers / supervisors’ AOD-related knowledge, role adequacy, motivation and personal views were examined.

Seven workshops were conducted between October 2015 and June 2016 and participants were invited to take part in the evaluation by email.

The study found that mean scores increased significantly between T1 and T2 for knowledge, role adequacy, motivation and personal views. Importantly, significant improvements were maintained at T3 for knowledge and role adequacy. Overall the study found that a brief program delivered in situ in an interactive workshop format is relevant for workplace supervisors and managers and is an effective strategy to better understand the roles that managers and supervisors have in identifying and addressing AOD-related harms.

The findings of the evaluation also provide several important messages for workplaces wanting to reduce AOD-related harms among their employees. These include:

  1. The importance of targeting managers and supervisors in training programs
  2. Delivering a tailored program that draws on the real-world workplace context from a policy and organisational perspective
  3. Workplace initiatives addressing AOD-related issues require comprehensive and evidence-based approaches which consider work-related factors and workplace conditions.

The present study forms part of a larger project undertaken by NCETA and Lives Lived Well that also evaluated the effectiveness of a Drug and Alcohol First Aid workshop for community and health sector workers and the general community. Please see the December 2017 edition of Connections for more information.