To test or not to test: Do workplace drug testing programs discourage employee drug use?

Michael T. French, Christopher Roebuck, Pierre Kébreau Alexandre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Workplace drug testing programs are often met with intense criticism. Despite resistance among labor and consumer groups and a lack of rigorous empirical evidence regarding effectiveness, drug testing programs have remained popular with employers throughout the 1990s and into the current century. The present study analyzed nationally representative data on over 15,000 US households to determine whether various types of workplace drug testing programs influenced the probability of drug use by workers. The study estimated several empirical specifications using both univariate and bivariate probit techniques. The specification tests favored the bivariate probit model over the univariate probit model. Estimated marginal effects of drug testing on any drug use were negative, significant, and relatively large, indicating that drug testing programs are achieving one of the desired effects. The results were similar when any drug use was replaced with chronic drug use in the models. These results have important policy implications regarding the effectiveness and economic viability of workplace anti-drug programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-63
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug testing
  • Employee drug use
  • Workplace programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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