Stakeholder Definitions of Responsible Drinking: A Call to Define an Ambiguous Construct

Taylor Lee, BA

Cambridge Health Alliance – Research Assistant

Scientific Abstract

Background: Alcohol-related harm is a leading public health concern. We conducted a systematic review of 6 stakeholder groups’ use of the term “responsible drinking” to determine the frequency of use and how it was defined by different stakeholders.

Methods: We searched sources from all 6 stakeholder groups–academics, government organizations, alcohol industry, alcohol treatment centers, higher education institutions, and alcohol professionals organizations – for definitions of “responsible drinking”. We used a similar search strategy to Gray et al. (2020) to locate academic definitions and then searched 133 websites for the other 5 stakeholder groups. We coded the definitions across 19 dimensions (e.g., vagueness, alcohol riskiness).

Results: Our search of 133 sources revealed frequent use of the term “responsible drinking” or a close alternative. However, only 17 of those sources provided an explicit definition. Of these definitions, 6 were from academics, 5 were from government organizations, 3 were from higher education institutions, 2 were from an alcohol industry group, and 1 was from an alcohol treatment center. Out of the 17 definitions, 70.6% were coded as vague and 64.7% mentioned drinking limits.

Conclusions: Despite the frequent use of the term “responsible drinking” the conceptualization is rarely and inadequately defined.

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research Areas


Taylor G. Lee, BA, John M. Slabczynski, BA

Principal Investigator

Heather M. Gray, PhD, Debi A. LaPlante, PhD

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