More not necessarily better in problem gambling services
More not necessarily better when it comes to problem gambling services
A study of 150 New Zealanders with gambling problems has shown that people achieved significant improvements when they received telephone-based care, and that having additional face-to-face counselling generally did not lead to further gains.
The research led by AUT University’s Professor Max Abbott focused on whether there were differences in outcomes for callers who used just the New Zealand Gambling Helpline and those who in addition, also received face-to-face counselling services.
The Effectiveness of Problem Gambling Brief Telephone Interventions: An Uncontrolled Outcome study followed up with the participants at three, six and 12 months to assess their progress and showed that the majority of callers did well whether they received the additional counselling or not.
“This doesn’t mean other gambling and counselling services have no value. It could be that most people who don’t need extra help don’t seek it and that people who do need more help get it and benefit,” Professor Abbott says.
An unexpected finding was that callers who gambled on pub pokies improved much less than those who gambled at casinos whether they had additional counselling or not. In the past pokies in pubs, clubs and casinos have been lumped together.
Also unexpected was that in addition to the majority of callers stopping or greatly reducing their gambling, there were substantial reductions in depression and anxiety as well as reduced smoking and drug abuse.
Another important finding was that most people reduced their gambling irrespective of their gender, ethnicity or other demographics and no matter whether they received additional counselling or not. However people with more serious gambling problems, living in high deprivation areas and having a disability or illness did not fare as well as others.
Professor Abbott says the outcomes of this study and another conducted by the same team will help improve matching of clients to services in the future.
A copy of the trial report’s executive summary is available for media: http://aut.ac/problemgamblinginterventions