Web-based Supervisor Training: Dealing with Employee Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Period of Performance: 03/01/2007 - 08/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Oregon Center for Applied Science, Inc.
EUGENE, OR 97401
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Alcohol and drug (AOD) abuse by employees cause many costly problems for business and industry including absenteeism, injuries, health insurance claims, loss of productivity, employee moral, theft and fatalities. The loss to companies in the United States totals $184.6 billion a year. There are 140 million Americans in the labor force, of whom 10.5% of the full-time employed adults and 11.9% of the part-time employed adults were classified with substance dependence or abuse. An estimated 7.06% of the workforce used alcohol at least once during the workday, and 8.10% of the workforce used alcohol at least once either before work or during the workday. Supervisors are key members of the work group that can influence a co-worker to seek assistance through their employee assistance program or health plan benefit. Supervisor confidence has been identified as a major factor in program implementation, including referring employees for appropriate assistance. The purpose of the proposed training program is to increase supervisors' knowledge, ability, and confidence in dealing with employee drug and alcohol abuse. The goals of the training session are that the supervisor will know how to: (a) recognize potential workplace AOD problems, (b) intervene appropriately in problem situations, (c) appropriately refer employees to AOD resources, (d) protect employee confidentiality, (e) continue supervision for employees previously referred to AOD resources, and (f) avoid common supervisor mistakes associated with implementing a DFW (drug-free workplace) policy. The proposed intervention is a web-based skill training program consisting of: (a) interactive multimedia presentation of content; (b) video-based testimonial stories and examples illustrating the consequences of substance abuse on the job and the relevance of supervisor training; (c) behavioral modeling using realistic video scenarios depicting how to apply the training; and (d) mastery learning practice applications of the training principles. A certificate will be received upon completion of the training program. In Phase I, we will determine the feasibility of using an interactive web-based training program to increase supervisors' ability to effectively respond to workplace problems associated with the abuse alcohol and other drugs. We will design, build and test the usability, acceptance, and potential value of a working prototype among supervisors in both private and public industry. Advisory panels of potential users and supervisor trainers will advise on the development and direction of the training program. A pilot test will be conducted to test usability and potential impact of the program. Phase II will develop the full-scope training program, and be evaluated in a large randomized trial.