The linear chain approximation is used to study the temperature dependence of the order parameters and the phase diagrams of the Blume-Emery-Griffiths model on the simple cubic lattice with dipole-dipole, quadrupole-quadrupole coupling strengths and a crystal-field interaction. The problem is approached introducing first a trial one-dimensional Hamiltonian whose free energy can be calculated exactly by the transfer matrix method. Then using the Bogoliubov variational principle, the free energy of the model is determined. It is assumed that the dipolar and quadrupolar intrachain coupling constants are much stronger than the corresponding interchain constants and confined the attention to the case of nearest-neighbor interactions. The phase transitions are examined and the phase diagrams are obtained for several values of the coupling strengths in the three different planes. A comparison with other approximate techniques is also made. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.