The Alcoholism Treatment Program at Canadian National Railways: A Case Study


99 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88868-092-9




Reviewed by Myrna I. Baker

Myrna I. Baker, B.Sc.N., M.Sc., lived and worked in Toronto.


In 1979 the Addiction Research Foundation entered into a cooperative project with the Canadian National Railway (CNR) corporation to evaluate its Alcoholism Treatment Program, which had been operating since 1971 and had handled close to 400 referrals.

This typewritten document is quite simply a presentation of results from a partial dataset collected for the purpose of evaluating a particular type of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for a specific client.

EAPs have become increasingly popular during the past ten years. However, as the authors (Judith Groeneveld et al. of the Addiction Research Foundation) point out, there has been a noticeable lack of published follow-up or evaluation of this type of intervention in industry without having a “clear understanding of its impact” (p.v of foreword). They therefore advocate more empirical studies directed toward the difficult task of EAP evaluation. The assessment of the effects and achievements of CNR’s Alcoholism Treatment Program (ATP) is approached in a comprehensive fashion using a framework that seeks to determine if the program is meeting its objectives as established by the company. This approach requires an understanding of the program’s development, its implementation and effect among users.

This document is organized into five chapters and a list of recommendations. Chapter one describes the development of EAP policies at CNR, policy objectives, perception of program implementation and program impact, and recommendations. Chapter two completes our understanding of the ATP at CNR by describing program implementation, utilization, and a profile of the program participants. Apart from the baseline descriptive data extracted from program files, the information contained in these first two chapters was derived through personal interviews of management executives. Having gained an overview of the program from the management perspective, the authors sought information from supervisors who had referred employees to ATP about policy implementation, problems encountered, and resulting intervention, as well as their perceptions of program effectiveness. The results of interviews with 76 supervisors are presented in Chapter Three. The final two chapters report results related to the assessment of the program’s fulfillment of the two major objectives — reduction of costs associated with managing problem employees and recovery from addiction.

The authors specify that the report has been prepared for the practitioner in the EAP field. Although this document is a clear concise overview and analysis of one specific program, it is not a technical report and therefore discussion of methodology and design considerations is absent. Furthermore, there is admittedly no attempt to discuss the results in terms of implications for future EAPs, public health, and social values. Those who may have an interest in EAP are informed that future volumes will be forthcoming to address these areas.


Groeneveld, Judith, and others, “The Alcoholism Treatment Program at Canadian National Railways: A Case Study,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,