Responsible beverage server training (RBS/RBST)

Evidence Rating  
Some Evidence
Evidence rating: Some Evidence

Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.

Health Factors  

Responsible beverage server training (RBST) includes efforts to educate owners, managers, servers, and sellers at alcohol establishments about strategies to avoid illegally selling alcohol to underage youth or intoxicated patrons1. RBST practices include offering customers food with drinks, delaying service to rapid drinkers, refusing service to intoxicated or underage consumers, and discouraging intoxicated customers from driving2. RBST is also sometimes called RBS or server training.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced excessive drinking

  • Improved alcohol server practices

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Reduced violence

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that responsible beverage server training (RBST) reduces harmful alcohol consumption2, 3, especially when implemented as part of a multi-component intervention4, 5. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects2, 4, 5.

RBST appears to improve server policies and practices and reduce the portion of patrons leaving drinking establishments intoxicated2, 3. This approach can reduce alcohol sales to minors6 and may also decrease alcohol-related violence4, 5.

Multi-component RBST that combines server training, community coalition efforts, and enhanced enforcement reduces excessive consumption more the server training alone4, 5. Clear role definition, evaluation, and feedback can also help facilitate effective RBST implementation7, 8.

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

RBST is in place in many states. As of January 2014, RBST was mandatory in 18 states  and Washington, DC and voluntary in many others9.

Implementation Resources

PIRE-RBST - Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Best practices in responsible alcoholic beverage sales and service training: With model ordinance, commentary and resources. Ventura: Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH); 2008.


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1 UMN-AEP - University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program (UMN-AEP). Alcohol control policy descriptions.

2 CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption.

3 Jones 2011a* - Jones L, Hughes K, Atkinson AM, Bellis MA. Reducing harm in drinking environments: A systematic review of effective approaches. Health & Place. 2011;17(2):508-18.

4 Trolldal 2012 - Trolldal B, Brännström L, Paschall MJ, Leifman H. Effects of a multi-component responsible beverage service programme on violent assaults in Sweden. Addiction. 2012;108(1):89-96.

5 Brennan 2011* - Brennan I, Moore SC, Byrne E, Murphy S. Interventions for disorder and severe intoxication in and around licensed premises, 1989-2009. Addiction. 2011;106(4):706-13.

6 Chinman 2014* - Chinman M, Ebener P, Burkhart Q, et al. Evaluating the impact of getting to outcomes-underage drinking on prevention capacity and alcohol merchant attitudes and selling behaviors. Preventive Science. 2014;15(4):485-496.

7 Haggard 2014* - Haggard U, Trolldal B, Kvillemo P, Guldbrandsson K. Implementation of a multicomponent responsible beverage service programme in Sweden: A qualitative study of promoting and hindering factors. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2014;31.

8 Trolldal 2013* - Trolldal B, Haggard U, Guldbrandsson K. Factors associated with implementation of a multicomponent responsible beverage service program: Results from two surveys in 290 Swedish municipalities. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. 2013;8:11.

9 APIS - Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS). Welcome to the Alcohol Policy Information System.

Date Last Updated