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The Work Environment Scale was used to assess staff perceptions of a change in a treatment programme for problem drinkers A more cost-effective 2-week research-based day-patient programme, which included the concept of matching, replaced a 5-week cognitive behavioural in-patient programme The maintenance of a positive work environment was attributed to the meeting of staff expectations, a cognitive behavioural ideology, and the establishment of a research culture The study highlights the importance of the thorough preparation of staff for change, and their active involvement in the processin settings where work satisfaction is already above the average level for mental health facilities