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The General Population’s View on Where to Seek Treatment for Gambling Disorder – a General Population Survey

Authors Håkansson A, Ford M

Received 15 August 2019

Accepted for publication 25 October 2019

Published 19 December 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 1137—1146


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Anders Håkansson,1 Madison Ford1,2

1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Psychiatry, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; 2McGill Group for Suicide Studies, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Correspondence: Anders Håkansson
Lund University, Malmö Addiction Center, Södra Förstadsgatan 35, Plan 4, Malmö S-205 02, Sweden
Tel +46 703 135677

Background: More remains to be understood about attitudes towards treatment for gambling disorder and where to seek treatment. Given the low degree of treatment seeking behaviour in this condition, it may be of interest to study people’s perception about where to seek help in case of problem gambling. From a study originally aiming to address health correlates of problem gambling, the present sub-study aimed to examine the general population’s attitudes towards where to advise a person with problem gambling to seek treatment, and correlates of recommending a formal professional treatment modality.
Methods: A cross-sectional general population web survey in Sweden (N=2,038, 55% women, 6% lifetime problem gamblers) was conducted. Preferred advice for gambling-related treatment seeking was defined with a question asking about where one would hypothetically advise a friend to seek help for gambling addiction. Advice for professional vs peer support help was compared with respect to individual characteristics, in problem gamblers and non-problem gamblers.
Results: Fifty percent preferred to recommend peer support help for gambling, whereas among professional treatment options, the largest share preferred primary care (22%) or psychiatry/addiction psychiatry (18%), while few suggested occupational health-care (6%) or social services (3%). Opting for a professional treatment modality for problem gambling was unrelated to one’s own problem gambling, whereas those recommending professional treatment were younger and more likely to report psychological distress. In problem gamblers specifically, history of indebtedness was associated with recommending professional treatment.
Conclusion: Many people may not perceive gambling disorder to require professional treatment, and may recommend peer support outside of formal treatment systems. Younger individuals, as well as those with a personal history of psychological treatment needs, may be more prone to recommending formal treatment. The findings may have implications for treatment trajectories and may facilitate overcoming perceived treatment barriers.

Keywords: gambling disorder, problem gambling, treatment seeking, barriers, attitudes

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