Brief Intervention Within Primary Care for At-Risk Gambling: A Pilot Study

Studies on interventions for at-risk gambling are scarce. This pilot study is the first step in a larger project aimed to develop methods to prevent more serious gambling problems. Drawing on experiences from the alcohol field, the brief intervention (BI) model was tested in a primary care setting. Primary care personnel was trained for 2 days. Patients were screened, and those with signs of problematic gambling were offered a return visit to discuss their gambling habits. Of the 537 screened, 34 (6.3 %) screened positive for problem gambling. Of those, 24 were at-risk gamblers whereof 19 agreed to participate. Six of those 19 took part in a 1-month follow-up. Important information for the planning of upcoming studies was collected from the pilot work. Given that the rate of at-risk gamblers was elevated in this setting we consider primary care a suitable arena for intervention. Staff training and support appeared essential, and questionnaires should be selected that are clear and well-presented so staff feel secure and comfortable with them. The BI model was found to be most suitable for patients already known to the caregiver. The number of participants who were willing to take part in the follow-up was low. To ensure power in future studies, a much larger number of screened patients is evidently necessary.

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