San Diego Research

San Diego Collaboration: San Diego State University (SDSU) and Stepping Stone of San Diego, Inc. (San Diego)

The project’s purpose was to assess the feasibility of engaging bar owners and bartenders in gay bars in participating in patron education/ intervention activities designed to decrease risk behaviors for gay men. The project focused on whether selected bars would participate in server intervention training; would they implement the intervention, and if so, would it have a negative impact on revenue? The project also designed and promoted a campaign associating alcohol intoxication with unsafe sex among gay/bisexual men using a “Don’t Duck Responsibility” theme accompanied with a cartoon of a duck holding beer and a condom.

Services Provided:

  • The San Diego team enlisted the participation of six gay bars and their personnel (owners and bartenders). A total of 12 bartenders became involved over the project period.
  • Bar owners and staff received free Responsible Hospitality/Beverage control service training for participating in the study.
  • Safer sex media campaign materials were provided free for participating bars, reaching hundreds of gay men at the bars.
  • A friendly and supportive relationship developed between the bar community and Stepping Stone – the first for an alcohol prevention agency in this community.

Research Activities:

  • Bartenders completed tally sheets to monitor their role as change agents in the bar setting.
  • Bar patrons were surveyed regarding bartenders actions and about the safer sex media campaign.
  • Qualitative interviews were conducted with 9 individual bartenders to determine: 1) individual bartender knowledge about the project, 2) whether bartenders want to become routinely involved in limiting alcohol and offering patrons safer sex messages, 3) what motivates bartenders to participate in HIV prevention projects, 4) how bartenders might design an HIV prevention effort, and 5) individual levels of interest in continued association with such an effort.
  • The CBO and research team learned to work together and to appreciate one another’s role in conducting HIV prevention interventions and research.

Summary of Research Findings:

  • The team found that it is possible to engage bartenders and owners to help implement responsible drinking and help promote safer sex messages, but bartenders need to feel ownership for any intervention campaign conducted if they are to be routinely involved. Bar owners and managers seemed to be primarily motivated by the chance to improve their legal/liability status.
  • Bartenders understand the link between alcohol intoxication and unsafe sexual practices. However, most bartenders indicated that they probably would not expand their health educator role even if paid extra.
  • Several suggestions were made by bartenders for improving the project: increased visual messages on napkins, bathroom and bar walls, enhanced easy access to condoms; community advertising incentives for establishments that participated in such projects; and a local media campaign which featured local bartenders promoting safer sexual practices.

Last modified: February 24, 2011