Effects of a hybrid online and in-person training program designed to reduce alcohol sales to obviously intoxicated patrons

Traci L. Toomey, Kathleen M. Lenk, Darin J. Erickson, Keith J. Horvath, Alexandra M. Ecklund, Dawn M. Nederhoff, Shanda L. Hunt, Toben F. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: Overservice of alcohol (i.e., selling alcohol to intoxicated patrons) continues to be a problem at bars and restaurants, contributing to serious consequences such as traffic crashes and violence. We developed a training program for managers of bars and restaurants, eARM™, focusing on preventing overservice of alcohol. The program included online and face-to-face components to help create and implement establishment-specific policies. Method: We conducted a large, randomized controlled trial in bars and restaurants in one metropolitan area in the midwestern United States to evaluate effects of the eARM program on the likelihood of selling alcohol to obviously intoxicated patrons. Our outcome measure was pseudo-intoxicated purchase attempts—buyers acted out signs of intoxication while attempting to purchase alcohol—conducted at baseline and then at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after training. We conducted intention-to-treat analyses on changes in purchase attempts in intervention (n = 171) versus control (n = 163) bars/restaurants using a Time × Condition interaction, as well as planned contrasts between baseline and follow-up purchase attempts. Results: The overall Time × Condition interaction was not statistically significant. At 1 month after training, we observed a 6% relative reduction in likelihood of selling to obviously intoxicated patrons in intervention versus control bars/restaurants. At 3 months after training, this difference widened to a 12% relative reduction; however, at 6 months this difference dissipated. None of these specific contrasts were statistically significant (p = .05). Conclusions: The observed effects of this enhanced training program are consistent with prior research showing modest initial effects followed by a decay within 6 months of the core training. Unless better training methods are identified, training programs are inadequate as the sole approach to reduce overservice of alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-275
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant R01AA018169-01A1 (to Traci L. Toomey, principal investigator).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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