Establishments that serve alcohol are a vast industry in America, but are unfortunately a common setting for aggressive and violent behaviors that are sometimes associated with alcohol consumption. Many servers (bartenders and wait staff) have limited training, job skills, and work experience. These combined factors put servers and their patrons at risk. Many states have responded by requiring or incentivizing establishments to participate in Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training. There is, however, considerable variation in quality, cost, duration, intensity, content, and mode of delivery among them. Many fail to use approaches shown to be effective in promoting professional development and effective adult learning, and focus primarily on legal and liability issues, overlooking the importance of teaching basic behavior management skills. Face-to- face RBS training can be expensive, time consuming, and difficult to access;additionally, its cost-effectiveness is limited by the industry's high turnover rate. Servers and their patrons would benefit from accessible, online RBS training grounded in behavioral psychology and informed by principles of adult learning. The overall goal for this project, Alcohol Servers Applying Psychology (ASAP) Phase II, is to develop a series of online training modules for alcohol servers on how to apply effective behavior management techniques in drinking establishments. This training will be delivered through a sophisticated yet user-friendly web delivery platform (IRIS Ed Online) developed by IRIS Media to extend the reach of public health interventions and disseminate training on a wide scale. The ASAP training program will use engaging and instructionally sound approaches that include observational learning techniques, interactive mastery exercises, self-assessment reviews, journaling exercises, and online social support, and will draw on well-established research on behavior management and alcohol-related violence prevention. The ASAP program will train servers to: 1) understand the effects of consumption of alcohol and other drugs on behavior, including intimidation, aggression, and sexual harassment;2) comprehend the impact of the physical environment on patron behavior;3) use proactive management skills to maintain a positive social environment;4) apply stress reduction techniques to stay calm when problems arise;5) recognize and defuse potential problem situations;and 6) identify emergency situations and follow appropriate procedures. In Phase I, a key program module (recognizing and defusing potential problem situations), was developed and tested for efficacy. In Phase II we propose to complete the program by developing and evaluating additional modules. Our evaluations will include both formative (focus groups, key informant interviews, and usability testing) and summative assessments, the latter including a two-panel, randomized, controlled study with pre-post surveys of knowledge, skills, self-efficacy, behavioral intention, technology acceptance, and consumer satisfaction, as well as pre-post and follow-up observations in 43 establishments.

Public Health Relevance

The consumption and abuse of alcohol in drinking establishments can often lead to aggressive and violent behaviors and put workers and patrons at risk of injury. Alcohol Servers Applying Psychology Phase II will provide online training to alcohol servers in how to use psychologically-sound measures to prevent problems and to intervene when potentially dangerous confrontations arise. Through this program, servers will receive training in a set of tested, positive, and effective strategies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-HDM-B (10))
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Bloss, Gregory
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Iris Media, Inc.
United States
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