GambleAware Highlights Treatment And Assistance Inefficiencies

GambleAware called for ongoing development of education programmes to raise awareness of problem gambling after new research showed that 46 percent of those with gambling disorder did not have access to treatment or assistance.

The study ‘Treatment Needs and Gap Analysis,’ conducted by a consortium of researchers including the National Centre for Social Research found that 27% of gamblers did not have access to care and help because of ‘perceived stigma or shame.’

It has been found that women are three times more likely than men to cite practical barriers such as cost, place, or time as a reason not to have access to gambling care.

The study also highlighted that given the fact that young adults and those from BAME groups frequently show lower rates of gambling activity, those who do gamble were more likely to be identified as problem gamblers, and also were more likely to have access to care in the last 12 months.

GambleAware Chief Executive, Marc Etches, commented on the research: “This research has shown that there is a clear need to further strengthen and improve the existing treatment and support on offer, to develop routes into treatment and to reduce barriers to accessing help. Services have to be flexible to meet the needs of individuals and easy to access.

“This research shows how the need for support and the way it is accessed may vary according to gender and demographic factors such as ethnic group, location or whether a person has additional health needs.

“Meeting the needs highlighted in this report will require partnerships between the statutory and voluntary sectors, both those services specific to gambling treatment and other health and support provisions. Working with those with lived experiences is essential in designing and promoting access to services, as well as helping to prevent relapse.

“It is important to engage community institutions including faith groups, to help make more people aware of the options available to them and ensure no one feels excluded from services.”

17 percent of gamblers said they refused to classify their gambling habits as harmful, 20 percent said they had suffered gambling harm themselves, while 7 percent said they were affected by others.’

According to GambleAware, many of the participants thought that there was a lack of clear care and help for affected family members and not enough signposting to the resources available.

Work by GambleAware cited a population ‘level survey’ conducted by YouGov and analysed independently by Professor Patrick Sturgis. YouGov data revealed that in the last 12 months 54-61 percent of the population had gambled, with 2.7 percent of the population scoring a PGSI 8 +.

In his assessment, Sturgis concluded that the true degree of gambling damage prevalence lies closer to the 0.7 percent population result of the Combined Health Survey, rather than 2.7 percent of the YouGov population survey.

Professor Sturgis commented:

“In order to identify gaps in gambling treatment and support services in Great Britain, researchers need to understand the size and characteristics of the group who experience gambling harms. The 2016 Combined Health Surveys used probability sampling and respondent self-completion during face-to-face interviewing, whereas the YouGov survey used a non-probability sample and online self-completion.

“These differences in sampling and mode of interview are likely to be driving the difference in the estimates of gambling harm between the two surveys. It is impossible to say with certainty which of the two surveys comes closest to the true level of gambling harm in the general population.

“However, after studying and comparing the two survey designs at length, it seems likely that the true rate of gambling harm lies somewhere between the two, though it is probably closer to the Combined Health Surveys estimate of 0.7% than to the YouGov estimate of 2.7%.”

Dr Sokratis Dinos, Head of Research at the National Social Research Center, also commented:

“A recurrent theme across this programme of studies was related to a lack of awareness of, or hesitation to accept, that gambling behaviour may be harmful. Gambling harms can have a negative impact on the perception of oneself often owing to the associated ‘stigma’.

“Continuing to develop education programmes and public messaging about the way gambling disorder is perceived, and the development of peer-based, as well as tailored treatment and support services for groups less likely to access those provisions, would help to address this and, in turn, contribute towards reducing barriers to seeking treatment and support.”