Examining the impact of e-mental health in problem gambling – full-text PDF

Simone Rodda, Dan Lubman, Nicki Dowling. 

This study examined people’s experiences of e-mental health options at Gambling Help Online. It looked at chat and email counselling services, forums, website information and self-help tools. It also piloted and evaluated a text messaging relapse prevention program.

The researchers surveyed 277 participants recruited through Gambling Help Online about their experiences directly after using a service (baseline) and then four and 12 weeks later.

Highlights include:

  • Online services can be effective in reducing gambling symptom severity – at baseline, almost half of participants reported severe gambling symptoms, compared with only one-fifth 12 weeks later.
  • There were better outcomes for participants using more intensive (chat or email-based) services, compared with those using website information or self-help materials.
  • At 12 weeks, only 6.5 per cent of participants had not engaged with a service or attempted self-directed change following contact with Gambling Help Online.
  • The most frequent actions taken after accessing Gambling Help Online were self-directed (93 per cent) and included reading information on the website, talking to family and friends, and attempting a self-help strategy such as limiting access to cash.
  • Providing tips and offers of help via text messages did not change gambling symptom severity, frequency of gambling or money spent gambling.
  • Users of Gambling Help Online services were more likely to be young and male than users of Gambler’s Help services.

This study helps us better understand the needs of online service users and tailor service responses accordingly. In addition, it provides tentative support for using text messaging as a post-care program. Future work might also investigate offering more intensive options online, such as video conferencing.

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