Gambling involves risking something of value (typically money) on an event with a chance of winning something else of value. It may be done through betting on sports, horse races, card games, dice, lottery tickets, scratch-off tickets, casino games and other forms of gambling that involve taking a chance on an outcome.
Pathological gambling (PG) is an impulse control disorder characterized by maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviour that are persistent and recurrent despite attempts to reduce or control them. It can have a significant impact on people’s lives, including their relationships, employment and health. People with PG often develop their problems in adolescence or young adulthood and they tend to gamble more frequently and spend more money than the general population. They are more likely to have problems with strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling such as poker, blackjack, and roulette, and they are more likely to be male than female.
The development of new treatments for PG has been challenging, with previous interventions displaying limited efficacy. The current understanding of PG is that it is a complex condition with many different causes. Consequently, treatment approaches that are designed to target only one aspect of the problem – such as problem gambling disorder diagnostic criteria or behavioural symptoms – may be ineffective.
There is also a lack of consensus regarding what constitutes harm from gambling, with some studies using a broad definition that includes many negative consequences. This broad definition is not supported by the evidence, and a more precise measure of gambling harm is needed.
This research aims to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms that underlie gambling related harm, with the ultimate goal of developing effective treatments. The study will use a novel approach that combines longitudinal and quantitative methods. It will investigate the onset, development and maintenance of normal and problem gambling behaviour, as well as exploring the effects of specific behavioural treatments on this process.
Several key areas of interest have been identified, which will form the basis for a proposed conceptual framework for gambling-related harm. The first is to identify the breadth of harms that occur, extending beyond financial harms to include emotional or psychological harms and impacts on work or study. The second is to understand the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of harmful gambling. Specifically, this will be accomplished through the use of longitudinal data which will enable comparisons between respondents at different times.
If you are dealing with a loved one who has a gambling addiction, reach out to us for free and confidential help. We have counsellors available 24/7 to talk through the specific issues you are facing and how to cope with them. We can also provide advice on family therapy, marriage, career and credit counselling, all of which can help you get your life back on track. The first step is to make an appointment with a counsellor – it’s easy and fast! You can do so by completing our online booking form.