Trait Mindfulness, Problem-Gambling Severity, Altered State of Awareness and Urge to Gamble in Poker-Machine Gamblers

McKeith, C. F. A., Rock, A. J., & Clark, G. I.

In Australia, poker-machine gamblers represent a disproportionate number of problem gamblers. To cultivate a greater understanding of the psychological mechanisms involved in poker-machine gambling, a repeated measures cue-reactivity protocol was administered. A community sample of 38 poker-machine gamblers was assessed for problem-gambling severity and trait mindfulness. Participants were also assessed regarding altered state of awareness (ASA) and urge to gamble at baseline, following a neutral cue, and following a gambling cue. Results indicated that: (a) urge to gamble significantly increased from neutral cue to gambling cue, while controlling for baseline urge; (b) cue-reactive ASA did not significantly mediate the relationship between problem-gambling severity and cue-reactive urge (from neutral cue to gambling cue); (c) trait mindfulness was significantly negatively associated with both problem-gambling severity and cue-reactive urge (i.e., from neutral cue to gambling cue, while controlling for baseline urge); and (d) trait mindfulness did not significantly moderate the effect of problem-gambling severity on cue-reactive urge (from neutral cue to gambling cue). This is the first study to demonstrate a negative association between trait mindfulness and cue-reactive urge to gamble in a population of poker-machine gamblers. Thus, this association merits further evaluation both in relation to poker-machine gambling and other gambling modalities.

An Ecological Approach to Electronic Gambling Machines and Socioeconomic Deprivation in Germany

Xouridas, S., Jasny, J., & Becker, T.
In Germany, gambling research has primarily focused on the broader population in prevalence studies, neglecting the importance and influence of the local socioeconomic context in the development and maintenance of gambling disorders. To analyze the interplay between contextual and compositional factors in the market for electronic gambling machines (EGMs) in Germany, we assessed the EGM densities and socioeconomic deprivation in 244 local communities within Baden-Wuerttemberg. Our results suggest that EGM density is statistically associated with 3 socioeconomic determinants: The shares of migrants, unemployed, and high-school-educated people in the communities are statistically significant variables in our linear regression model, whereas younger age, male gender, and marital status exhibit no statistical associations with EGM density. The share of unemployed people is the only variable of statistical and practical significance. Our analysis advocates area-based policy measures to minimize gambling-related harm. By decreasing EGM densities in communities with high levels of unemployment, we expect to protect at-risk population strata that are most vulnerable to gambling exposure.

The Case for Using Personally Relevant and Emotionally Stimulating Gambling Messages as a Gambling Harm-Minimisation Strategy (open access)

Harris, A., Parke, A., & Griffiths, M. D.
Emotions typically exert powerful, enduring, and often predictable influences over decision-making. However, emotion-based decision-making is seen as a mediator of impulsive and reckless gambling behaviour, where emotion may be seen as the antithesis of controlled and rational decision-making, a proposition supported by recent neuroimaging evidence. The present paper argues that the same emotional mechanisms can be used to influence a gambler to cease gambling, by focusing their emotional decision-making on positive external and personally relevant factors, such as familial impact or longer term financial factors. Emotionally stimulating messages may also have the advantage of capturing attention above and beyond traditionally responsible gambling messaging. This is important given the highly emotionally aroused states often experienced by both gamblers and problem gamblers, where attentional activation thresholds for external stimuli such as messages may be increased.

Prevalence and determinants of gambling disorder among older adults

McGraw, C.

This systematic review examined the prevalence and determinants of gambling disorder in adults aged over 60 years. Studies that used community-based population sampling and were published up to May 2013 were identified using PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO and ProQuest.

Motivation-Matched Approach to the Treatment of Problem Gambling: A Case Series Pilot Study (open access)

Stewart, M. J., Davis MacNevin, P. L., Hodgins, D. C., Barrett, S. P., Swansburg, J., & Stewart, S. H.
The aim of the present case series was to provide a preliminary assessment of the utility of a motivation-matched treatment for problem gamblers. On the basis of their primary underlying motivations for gambling, 6 problem gamblers received either action-motivated (n = 4) or escape-motivated (n = 2) treatment. Drawing upon a cognitive-behavioural framework, this 6-session motivation-matched treatment was designed to address gamblers’ maladaptive motivations for gambling (i.e., the need or desire for “escape” or “action”), as well as the effects of conditioning and maladaptive thinking patterns unique to each gambling motive subtype. Assessments were conducted at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3- and 6-month follow-up. Primary outcome measures included gambling behaviour (i.e., gambling frequency, time, and money spent gambling), severity of gambling problems, and gambling-related impairment or disability; secondary outcome measures included gambling-related craving, gambling abstinence self-efficacy, positively and negatively reinforcing gambling situations, and gambling outcome expectancies. Overall, participants showed pre- to post-treatment improvements on the majority of these measures, with relatively less immediate post-treatment treatment gains observed on measures that assessed positively and negatively reinforcing gambling situations and gambling-related impairment or disability. However, treatment gains at the 3- and 6-month follow-up were shown for most participants on these latter measures as well. Findings suggest promise for this novel treatment approach. The next step in this line of research is to conduct a randomized, controlled trial to compare the efficacy of this motivation-matched treatment for disordered gambling with treatment as usual.