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Responsible Beverage Service Training – Is Web-based Training Effective?

December, 2018

Berkeley, CA –  Responsible alcohol beverage service training programs give owners, managers, and staff of bars and restaurants information about alcohol serving laws and the skills necessary to comply with them to serve alcohol responsibly and thereby protect public health.

While research has found mixed success with such training, one barrier to widespread adoption has been the cost and difficulty in scheduling the training when conducted by a live trainer.  One new study suggests that web-based training can prevent over-service of alcohol and reduce drunk driving and do so on a cost-effective basis.

Researchers from the Klein Buendel, Inc., Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and Paula Stanghetta & Associates Inc. examine whether web-based trainings are one way to provide effective trainings and whether they are more effective than the customary and varied live trainings currently mandated by the State of New Mexico.

To test these questions, researchers provided responsible beverage service (RBS) training to 154 alcohol-service establishments in New Mexico via web-based training (WayToServe®) and compared serving behavior to 155 establishments that had received whatever live RBS trainings were available in the state.  The primary outcome was whether servers refused to serve “pseudo-patrons” who appeared to be obviously intoxicated.  Measures were taken before training, immediately after training, 6 months after training, and 1 year after training to access the effectiveness of WayToServe®.

The results of this randomized trial were that significantly higher refusal rates of service to the pseudo-intoxicated patrons were found with the web-based trainings immediately after the training and at the 1-year mark (but not at the 6-month point).

The authors conclude that web-based RBS training can be delivered online, making it a cost-effective way of reaching large, dispersed, and ever-changing alcohol server populations.

Says one of the study’s co-authors, Robert Saltz: “Ideally, RBS training would be part of a comprehensive campaign that includes enforcement of serving laws.  In the meantime, it seems that we can make meaningful improvements in training and thus, serving behavior.”

Source:  Woodall, W. Gill, Randall Starling, Robert F. Saltz, David B. Buller, and Paula Stanghetta. "Results of a randomized trial of web-based retail onsite responsible beverage service training: WayToServe." Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 79, no. 5 (2018): 672-679.

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