Responsible beverage server training (RBS/RBST)

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 patrons (UMN-AEP). 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 driving (CG-Alcohol). 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 consumption (Jones 2011a*, CG-Alcohol), especially when implemented as part of a multi-component intervention (Trolldal 2012, Brennan 2011*). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (CG-Alcohol, Trolldal 2012, Brennan 2011*).

RBST appears to improve server policies and practices and reduce the portion of patrons leaving drinking establishments intoxicated (CG-Alcohol, Jones 2011a*). This approach can reduce alcohol sales to minors (Chinman 2014*) and may also decrease alcohol-related violence (Brennan 2011*, Trolldal 2012).

Multi-component RBST that combines server training, community coalition efforts, and enhanced enforcement reduces excessive consumption more the server training alone (Trolldal 2012, Brennan 2011*). Clear role definition, evaluation, and feedback can also help facilitate effective RBST implementation (Haggard 2014*, Trolldal 2013*).

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 others (APIS).

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.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

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

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