As the charity released its annual GB Treatment and Support study, GambleAware recorded a year-on-year uptick in those identified as “problem gamblers” seeking care, especially during the pandemic.
The 2020 edition, the second of its kind, looked at the use of care and support facilities by gamblers and those impacted by another’s gambling. It used a broader sample size of 18,879 adults (2019: 12,161) in order to further measure incidence by age, ethnicity, UK region, socio-economic group, and ethnic group.
‘Statistically significant increase’
According to GambleAware, the study found a “statistically significant increase” in ‘problem gamblers’ (PGSI 8+) who said they had used some kind of therapy, advice, or help in the previous 12 months, with six out of ten (63 percent ) claiming they had, compared to just over half (54 percent) a year ago.
It was also discovered that medication usage by ‘problem gamblers’ rose from 43 percent to 53 percent between studies, owing to a rise in recorded use of mental health facilities from 12 percent to 19 percent.
There was also a rise in recorded usage of guidance and assistance, from 39 percent to 48 percent, due in part to the use of self-help software or resources, such as self-exclusion technology, which was used by 14 percent of respondents, up from 9 percent in 2019.
Increase provision and access to services
The CEO of GambleAware, Zo Osmond, said: “It is encouraging to see a year-on-year increase in those classified as ‘problem gamblers’ seeking help, especially during the pandemic.
“These results will be used to help inform GambleAware’s new commissioning strategy as we continue our work to increase provision of and access to services.
“The significantly increased sample will allow GambleAware to better tailor existing support services according to local need, and allow us to better support local authorities and health commissioners.”
The study also contained analysis into care, guidance, and assistance provided online, which showed that ‘gamblers’ (PGSI 1+) felt it was either easier (44 percent) or almost the same (38 percent) as having it in person.
Remote assessment more popular than face-to-face
Discretion (33 percent), flexibility and personal preference for online/remote appointments (both 32 percent), and making sessions less embarrassing or daunting were all common factors in determining that accessing it electronically was safer than face-to-face (both 27 per cent).
One in six (18 percent) of ‘problem gamblers’ who have not received care, advice, or help remotely believed that the level of remote or internet support would be worse due to factors such as loss of eye contact or inability to read body language.
Furthermore, 16 percent said they lacked a private room in which to partake in their care, and 14 percent said that sharing their devices with other individuals in their household would find remote assistance impossible to obtain.
Concerns over stigma (22 percent) and the belief that they would be unavailable were among the barriers to obtaining care, guidance, or help (15 percent).
Over half (59 percent) of ‘problem gamblers’ said they needed some kind of medication, advice, or help, according to the survey. This number represents gamblers who have already used one of the above facilities, implying that there is some correlation in use and recorded demand, according to GambleAware.
Furthermore, primary motivators for finding care in this population included learning help was accessible via a specific platform (29 percent), knowledge of the ease of receiving support (22 percent), and assurance that treatment and support will be confidential (16 percent).