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Tracing the global history of EAP.

Normally in this column, I focus on a particular country or region of the world. However, in this issue I'll highlight a global research process, currently underway, that will produce the first comprehensive history of EAPs. The EAP History Project, funded by the Employee Assistance Research Foundation (EARF), will result in a definitive, evidence-based documentation of the history and evolution of EAPs worldwide.

The EARF Board of Directors has awarded grants to two distinguished researchers to support this project. Professor Emeritus Dale Masi, PhD, CEAP, will lead the research efforts pertaining to North America; while Professor Ann Roche, PhD, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University in South Australia, will lead the research focused on developments outside North America.

Both research teams will conduct systematic literature reviews, archival research of unpublished documents, and interviews with important individuals who have helped shape the field from the 1960s through the present.

The key outcome will be a scholarly review and analysis of why and how the EAP field has evolved to this point, with a special emphasis on how cultural and other differences among countries affect EAP development and effectiveness. Understanding the forces that have brought us to the present is a necessary foundation to enable EAPs to continue to thrive into the future.

What's Different About This Project?

As a member of EARF's History Project oversight committee, I've come to appreciate how unique and forward-thinking this research effort really is and how valuable the results might be for all of us who are potential consumers and beneficiaries of the project's findings. The "systematic literature review" protocol Dr. Roche and her team will be using (Roche et al, 2016) helps highlight the critical difference between EARF's History Project and more anecdotal histories that have been published in the past.

Systematic Literature Review

What exactly is a systematic review process? According to Dr. Roche, "A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise, and synthesize all of the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question (Cochrane Library, 1999)." The research questions for this project are:

* What is the current state of EAPs in various countries/ continents?

* How have EAPs developed and evolved in the USA and other countries from the 1960s to the present?

* Did the development and evolution of EAPs during this period differ among various countries?

* What were the drivers of EAP development and evolution in each country?

The empirical evidence to answer these questions might come from a variety of sources, including qualitative and quantitative research articles, case studies, archival documents, proprietary reports, and individual recollections. To properly handle this kind of heterogeneity in their sources, the reviewers will use what's called a "thematic analysis," in which key or recurrent themes are identified.

According to the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York, in a thematic analysis, "[Findings] are summarized under thematic headings. Information is tabulated allowing identification of prominent themes and offering structured ways of dealing with the data in each theme (Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, 2008, p.228)."

To implement the thematic analysis, Dr. Roche and her team will identify "core themes" as early as possible in the review (Roche et al, 2016). Her criteria for core themes come from Strauss (Strauss and Corbin, 1990). Core themes must:

* Be the most central themes and be related to as many other sub-themes and categories and their properties as possible;

* Appear frequently in the data (that is, the indicators pointing to the core themes must occur frequently);

* Be easily related to other categories and data characteristics; and

* Hold clear implications for a more general theory.

Stages of the Analysis

As opposed to more descriptive review projects where researchers might simply jump right in to a literature search, drawing potential conclusions from the particular set of information they run across, the systematic review occurs in carefully planned stages. The first step is to develop clear inclusion and exclusion criteria for what literature will be searched and considered. These criteria are driven by the defined research questions.

Using these criteria, the search is then conducted, with an eye to identifying and clarifying the core themes that emerge. After the initial development of the core themes, references not relevant to any of the themes are removed from the database. The data in the remaining references are then appraised for quality and relevance and mapped to the identified themes. Finally, the empirically derived themes and the supporting data are synthesized and incorporated into the final documents.

Stay Tuned

The analytic nature of the systematic literature review is a good example of the unique contribution this project promises to deliver to the field. For further information, and to support the History Project with your tax-deductible contribution to EARF, please visit the EARF website at http://www. eapfoundation.org/research/ the-history-project/. As always, of course, you're also welcome to contact me directly or to post your feedback, questions, or suggestions on EAPA's LinkedIn group.

By John Maynard, PhD, CEAP

Dr. John Maynard is a charter member of the EARF Board of Directors and currently serves on the Board's History Project oversight committee. He served as CEO of EAPA from 2004 through 2015. Prior to that, he was President of SPIRE Health Consultants, Inc., a global consulting firm specializing in EA strategic planning, program design, and quality improvement. In both roles, he had the opportunity to observe, meet, and exchange ideas with EA professionals in countries around the world. He can be reached at johnmaynard@spirehealth.com.

References

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. (2008). Systematic Reviews--CRD's guidance for undertaking reviews in health care. York, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York.

Cochrane Library. (1999). "About Cochrane Reviews." Retrieved 8 April 2016, from http://www.cochranelibrary.com/about/ about-cochrane-systematic-reviews.html.

Roche, A., Cameron, J. & Kostadinov, V. (2016). History of EAPs Systematic Review Protocol, Version 2, 11 April 2016. NCETA, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

Strauss, A. L. & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, Calif: Sage Publications.
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Title Annotation:the world of eap
Author:Maynard, John
Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Date:Oct 1, 2016
Words:1014
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