Can a brief telephone intervention for problem gambling help to reduce co-existing depression? A three-year prospective study in New Zealand [subscription access article]

Ranta, J., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies. Retrieved from

Abstract: Problematic gambling and depression commonly co-exist, with limited research indicating that depression and/or psychological distress appear to reduce with brief interventions for problem gambling. The present study was designed to examine the effect, over 36 months, of a brief problem gambling intervention on depression in a population of people seeking help for gambling issues. One-hundred and thirty-one participants were recruited from adult (18+ years) gambler callers to the New Zealand national gambling helpline. They received a manualised version of the helpline’s brief intervention, and were assessed at baseline, 12 and 36 months. Overall, problem gambling severity reduced from a score of 17 (using the Problem Gambling Severity Index) at baseline to a score of 7.5 at 36 months. The percentage of participants with depression reduced from 74% at baseline to 41% at 36 months. For both problem gambling and depression, the greatest reduction was in the first 12 months. Multiple logistic regression analyses at baseline showed an association between problem gambling and depression. Repeated measures logistic regression indicated that reduced problem gambling severity reduced depression and that there was no independent time effect taking place (i.e. the decreased depression was not due to natural recovery). Thus a single brief telephone intervention for problem gambling substantially reduced the prevalence of depression. This has clinical and public health implications with a benefit being that people with depression and co-existing gambling problems may not necessarily need additional treatment for depression if they receive treatment for their gambling issues. View article details, references and access options


Design and Methods of the New Zealand National Gambling Study, a Prospective Cohort Study of Gambling and Health: 2012–2019

By Abbott, M., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N., & Kolandai-Matchett, K.

Abstract: This paper describes the design, sampling, recruitment, and data analysis of the prospective, nationally representative New Zealand National Gambling Study. Particular aspects of the study were critical for its success as a longitudinal epidemiologic study, making its methodology beneficial for replication in other jurisdictions. At baseline (2012), 6251 adults were interviewed and followed-up in 2013, 2014, and 2015. An additional cohort of 106 moderate-risk/problem gamblers interviewed at baseline (2014–2015) and follow-up (2015–2016) increased the number of these groups in the study. Measures included gambling commencement, gambling frequency, gambling risk levels, at-risk and problem gambling development (incidence), comorbidity, problem gambling cessation, and relapse. Future stages include a follow-up assessment in 2019 and a qualitative study. The study design enables assessment of population and individual level changes and transitions over time, identification of risk and protective factors, and comparisons with previous similarly designed prospective studies. Methods for enhancing response rates and retention are discussed.

Abbott, M., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N., & Kolandai-Matchett, K. (2017). Design and Methods of the New Zealand National Gambling Study, a Prospective Cohort Study of Gambling and Health: 2012–2019. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 15(6), 1242–1269.