Examining How Intimate Partner Violence is Addressed by Employer Assistance Programs

Field of Work: Examining how intimate partner violence is addressed by Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

Problem Synopsis: Women lose an estimated almost 8 million days of paid work annually due to intimate partner violence. A potential workplace intervention is through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), yet little is known about EAP services related to intimate partner violence.

Synopsis of the Work: Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the practices and services related to intimate partner violence offered by EAPs and the experiences of women using these services through a survey of 28 EAPs and a survey of 1,765 employed women who experienced intimate partner violence and had access to an EAP.

Key Findings

The survey of EAPs (reported in several journal articles) found that services commonly available to intimate partner violence victims at the workplace include: crisis counseling and safety plan development (for those in immediate harm); referrals for short-term counseling and community resources; and follow-up on referrals and limited case management.

Yet, most EAPs do not have a specific code for intimate partner violence and cannot accurately report on the prevalence of the problem or utilization of EAP services by women experiencing intimate partner violence. Also, employers indicate low awareness of both intimate partner violence as a workplace issue and of EAP services available to assist in cases of intimate partner violence.

The survey of women's experience with EAPs and intimate partner violence (reported in an article in Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health and to RWJF) found that among women who had contacted their EAP after experiencing intimate partner violence, about half made contact after being encouraged by someone they knew, including their manager or supervisor (20%). Of the EAP users, 89 percent used the help they received, and 71 percent reported their work performance improved after contacting their EAP.