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October 23, 1987

Occupational Medicine

JAMA. 1987;258(16):2260-2261. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160114029

Practitioners of occupational medicine face a challenge of assisting business and industry in health care cost containment. As a result, the popularity of employersponsored employee assistance programs has grown. The target of these programs is the troubled employee who experiences difficulty at work due to physical, psychological, or personal problems (eg, chemical dependency).

The occupational physician plays a central role in these employee assistance programs, as management frequently refers the troubled employee to the company medical department because of poor work performance. The physician may then act as an effective interface between management, the employee assistance counselor, and the employee's personal physician in resolving the problem. A successful employee assistance program is strongly enhanced by a clear, mutual understanding of the roles of each member participating in it. Such a program provides invaluable support for clinicians who must confront the troubled employee and refer him or her for treatment. A