Gambling problems among patients in primary care: a cross-sectional study of general practices [open access article]

Cowlishaw, S., Gale, L., Gregory, A., et al. (2017). The British journal of general practice: the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. doi:

Background: Primary care is an important context for addressing health-related behaviours, and may provide a setting for identification of gambling problems. Aim: To indicate the extent of gambling problems among patients attending general practices, and explore settings or patient groups that experience heightened vulnerability. Design and Setting: Cross sectional study of patients attending general practices in southwest England. Method: Adult patients (n = 1,058) were recruited from waiting rooms of practices that were sampled on the basis of population characteristics. Patients completed anonymous questionnaires comprising measures of mental health problems (e.g., depression) and addictive behaviours (e.g., risky alcohol use). The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) measured gambling problems, along with a single-item measure of problems among family members. Estimates of extent and variability according to practice and patient characteristics were produced. Results: There were 0.9% of all patients exhibiting problem gambling (PGSI 5+), and 4.3% reporting problems that were low to moderate in severity (PGSI 1-4). Around 7% of patients reported gambling problems among family members. Further analyses indicated that rates of any gambling problems (PGSI 1+) were higher among males and young adults, and more tentatively, within a student healthcare setting. They were also elevated among patients exhibiting drug use, risky alcohol use and depression. Conclusion: There is need for improved understanding of the burden of, and responses to, gambling problems in general practices, and new strategies to increase identification in order to facilitate improved care and early intervention. Full article