‘I’ll just pay the rent next month’: an exploratory study examining facilitatory cognitions among EGM problem gamblers (subscription access article)

Jane Oakes, Rene Pols, Sharon Lawn, Malcolm Battersby, Dan Lubman. (2018) International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. doi: 10.1007/s11469-018-9948-y

Clinical studies of problem gamblers (PGs) highlight the role of erroneous cognitions during problematic gambling, yet little is known about the role of cognitions in the maintenance of gambling problems. Twenty-nine electronic gaming machine (EGM) PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews, with a focus on understanding the relapse process in EGM gambling. Three themes and nine subthemes related to facilitatory cognitions were described; (i) creating available money (paying only essential bills, pokies money is not real money), (ii) minimising gambling as a problem (pseudo-control, ignoring harms), and (iii) struggling with overwhelming emotions. This paper expands our understanding of gambling cognitions and argues cognitions activated during problem gambling are more complicated than considered to date. These findings inform current cognitive therapy approaches by identifying a more comprehensive suite of erroneous cognitions. Addressing these cognitions may assist gamblers to maintain critical thinking about their decision to gamble, thus reducing their risk of relapse. Article details and references

Pathological gambling and co-dependence [open access article]

Slezáková Silvia. (2018). Acta Ludologica, 1(1), 40-51.

Abstract: Pathological gambling is one of the addictions that is widespread in our society, but despite its seriousness, it does not receive sufficient attention. The economic consequences of pathological gambling are comparable to other addictions, although in the overall context, their economic impact is much greater. The social consequences of pathological gambling are even greater than in case of other addictions, as pathological gamblers mostly have a family, and because of their dependence, their family often becomes dysfunctional, with all the related consequences. There exist several effective treatment approaches to treat pathological gambling, as in the case of substance dependencies. For an understanding of pathological behaviour in online games and digital games, it is also necessary to understand the development of related phenomenon – pathological gambling. The aim of this article is to briefly describe pathological gambling and co-dependence. Access full article

The relationship between online gambling, psychosocial problems and crime for helpseekers calling a helpline (open access thesis)

By Erik Rosenberg. (2018). Masters thesis in Criminology,  Malmö University.

Abstract: Problem gambling is a public health issue that affects gamblers, relatives and society in general. The Swedish National Gambling Helpline, Stödlinjen, operates as a primary help to people with problems related to gambling. The 22,260 calls made to the helpline from 2009 to 2016 were studied with regards to gender, age, online gambling, psychosocial problems, and crime. Comparison between gamblers and relatives revealed gender and age differences. Reports of online gambling increased for both groups as time progressed, while crime declined. The results are discussed, and it is concluded that more research on the connection between gambling and crime is needed, as well as further develop a crime-aspect in the counsellors’ documentation of helpline callers. Access thesis

Therapist-delivered and self-help interventions for gambling problems: A review of contents (open access article)

Simone Rodda, Stephanie S. Merkouris, Charles Abraham, David C. Hodgins, Sean Cowlishaw & Nicki A. Dowling. (2018). Journal of Behavioral Addictions
doi: 10.1556/2006.7.2018.44

Abstract: Background and aims
To date, no systematic approach to identifying the content and characteristics of psychological interventions used to reduce gambling or problem gambling has been developed. This study aimed to develop a reliable classification system capable of identifying intervention characteristics that could, potentially, account for greater or lesser effectiveness.

Discussion: This research provides a tool that allows systematic identification of intervention characteristics, thereby enabling consideration, not only of whether interventions are effective or not, but also of which domain-relevant characteristics account for greater or lesser effectiveness. The taxonomy also facilitates standardized description of intervention content in a field in which many diverse interventions have been evaluated.

Conclusion: Application of this coding tool has the potential to accelerate the development of more efficient and effective therapist-delivered and self-directed interventions to reduce gambling problems. Full article

Video game loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling (subscription access article)

Aaron Drummond & James D. Sauer (2018). Nature Human Behaviour. doi: 10.1007/s11469-018-9950-4

Video games are increasingly exposing young players to randomized in-game reward mechanisms, purchasable for real money — so-called loot boxes. Do loot boxes constitute a form of gambling? Playing video games is a common pastime in industrialized nations, with 65% of US homes including at least one gamer. To increase the longevity and profitability of their products, video game developers are, with increasing frequency, incorporating … Article details and references

Impulsivity and problem gambling: can the anticipated emotional rewards explain the relationship? (subscription access article)

Flack, M. & Buckby, B. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9950-4

Gambling behaviors tend to increase in prevalence from late adolescence to young adulthood, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences during this period remain largely understudied. We examined the genetic and environmental influences on gambling behaviors contributing to stability and change from ages 18 to 25 in a longitudinal, behavioral genetic mixed-sex twin study design. Participants were enrolled in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. A range of gambling behaviors (maximum frequency, average frequency, money lost, and gambling problems) were assessed at ages 18 and 25. The results of our study support the following conclusions: (a) the genetic and environmental factors impacting a range of gambling behaviors are largely similar in men and women, (b) genetic factors increase in influence from 18 to 25 (21% at age 18 to 57% at age 25), (c) shared environmental factors are influential at age 18, but tend to decrease from ages 18 to 25 (55% at age 18 to 10% at age 25), and (d) nonshared environmental influences are similarly significant and are small to moderate in magnitude at both ages. The findings add to a small yet important research area regarding determinants of youth gambling behaviors and have the potential to inform prevention and intervention efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved). Article details and references

Gauge your gambling: the acceptability and feasibility of a brief online motivational enhancement for non-treatment seeking problem gamblers (open access thesis)

By Amanda E. R. Robinson. (2018). A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies  for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Windsor.

Those who struggle to control their gambling have been shown to experience a number of adverse consequences. Despite these difficulties, only a small percentage of problematic gamblers ever seek gambling treatment or services. As technology advances there is growing evidence that brief online interventions may be efficacious with this population. The present study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a new brief online intervention for those who struggle with their gambling. The intervention was theoretically based on the Health Belief Model, the Transtheoretical Model, and
Motivational Interviewing. Participants completed a series of questionnaires about their gambling behaviours, perceived control over gambling, beliefs about their gambling problems, motivation for change and change efforts, and experienced and expected consequences of continued gambling. They also received personalized and normative comparison feedback.

The development and administration of the online intervention was inexpensive relative to in person services but did encountered several technical difficulties. In total, 204 participants provided some data. Of those who accessed the website approximately two-thirds were experiencing one or more symptoms of Gambling Disorder. Participants generally found the website acceptable, however, there was a high within-intervention attrition rate. Most participants were in the contemplation stage of change and had low perceived gambling refusal self-efficacy. Perceived severity and perceived benefits from the Health Belief Model were found to account for 76% of the variance in the intent to seek help. There was a small partial mediation effect for readiness to change on the relationship between perceived severity and the intent to seek help. There was insufficient follow-up data to support statistical analysis of outcome GAUGE YOUR GAMBLING v variables. The website attracted the target population for the most part, however, future researchers will want to consider methods of increasing engagement and follow-up in this population such as increased incentives. Participants rated the website positively and case study data at follow-up suggest that further testing of brief online interventions such as Gauge Your Gambling is warranted. Access thesis