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.