News Briefs

May 8, 2006

Study questions value of liquor-server training

Programs for modifying environments where alcohol is served, including bars and liquor stores, do not help reduce alcohol-related injuries, according to a new review of controlled studies.

“There is no reliable evidence that interventions in the alcohol server setting are effective in reducing injury,” fatal or otherwise, said Katherine Ker, lead review author.

Most of the studies included in the review used decade-old data and obtained relatively low levels of compliance. Server training programs were all short-term, ranging from one or two hours to two days, Kerr said.

“There were some interventions that sounded promising, but if you’re only able to train 50 percent or 60 percent of the people, you can’t tell if the intervention doesn’t work or if it’s because of lack of compliance,” Ker said. “If you could address the issue of compliance, you might be able to get more favorable results.”

Examining the effect of interventions on the supply side, instead of focusing on trying to change drinkers’ own demand for alcohol, is a quick way for investigators to target a wide range of drinkers, Ker said.

“Every alcohol consumer has contact with the alcohol industry in that they have to go to a pub or go to the shops to buy it, so implementing such interventions in server settings is a good way of reaching a large number of people who need it,” Ker said.

The review appears in The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Ker is coordinator of the Cochrane Injuries Group based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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