National Helpline for Problem Gambling: A Profile of Its Users' Characteristics

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Gambling addiction hotline

National Helpline for Problem Gambling: A Profile of Its Users' Characteristics

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Postby Akizragore В» 04.09.2019

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Gambling has seen a significant increase in Italy in the last 10 years and has rapidly become a public health issue, and for these reasons the first National Helpline for Problem Gambling GR-Helpline has been established.

This confirms that the problems related to gambling concern not only the gamblers but also their families and friends. Female gamblers had a higher mean age The results highlight the fact that remote access to counselling can be an effective means of promoting treatment for problem gamblers who do not otherwise appeal directly for services. Opportunities for access to gaming venues have increased greatly. The wide availability of legalized games has led many to consider gambling to be a common social activity that is both legalized and a socially acceptable form of leisure activity.

Many studies have suggested that the high level of accessibility to legal gambling opportunities is associated with an increasingly prevalent participation and the appearance of disordered gambling [ 1 — 3 ]. A recent analysis by Williams et al. These researchers estimated that the lowest standardized prevalence rates of problem gambling occur in Europe, more specifically Denmark, Netherlands, and Germany, with intermediate rates in North America and Australia, and also Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, Finland, and Italy.

The highest rates are observed in Asia and South Africa. In recent years the Italian public gaming industry has been expanding very rapidly, collecting Researchers have suggested that the young people i. Additionally, over the last decade, they have become the older adults [ 9 — 11 ]. Overall, gambling behaviors, both normal and problematic, are associated with males, whose rates are much higher than women e. Some studies have shown that the average age of female problem gamblers is higher than males and that females progress towards gambling disorders faster [ 15 — 17 ].

This also associates with more severe psychiatric symptoms [ 18 ]. In the general population prevalence studies reveal a strong association between problem gambling and specific forms of gambling, for example, lottery, cards and bingo [ 19 ], casino table games, and electronic gaming machines [ 13 , 20 ].

Overall, most people gamble recreationally, considering it a harmless form of entertainment. For some gamblers, however, this behavior becomes problematic and pathological, with adverse consequences for the gamblers, their families, and the community, involving impairment or loss of social relationships and financial resources, work and legal difficulties, and even physical health problems and antisocial behavior [ 21 , 22 ].

It is estimated that, for every individual who develops a gambling problem, from 5 to 10 additional people i. The individual, social, and economic costs associated with gambling behaviors are so large that gambling and its related problems have become a significant and growing public health issue [ 3 , 17 , 23 , 24 ]. This situation requires the development and implementation of both new and alternative approaches to treatment targeting a much broader range of problem gamblers.

Helpline services and online counselling e. These interventions are less expensive than formal treatment [ 2 ] and can serve wide geographical areas, thus overcoming many barriers, increasing accessibility to professional treatment, and thus attracting new treatment candidates [ 9 , 28 ]. Some studies have shown several concerns using online treatment support service, namely, guaranteeing privacy and anonymity, emotionally safe environment, convenience and issues regarding time, confidentiality, and flexibility [ 2 , 29 , 30 ].

It is managed by therapists and other professionals e. Briefly, the service GR-Helpline consists of helpline and website, accessible daily between 9 a.

To promote awareness of this service, information leaflets were distributed to general practitioners and social and health services providers, besides the gambling venues themselves: the most important source of information appeared to be the network of general practitioners, followed by the web and the gaming establishments. The anonymity of users is guaranteed by assigning a system-generated alphanumeric code: this enables deidentified surveys to collect information on gambling behavior and related problems.

Moreover, this code enables retrieval of personal information and subsequent addition of information collected through further contact. The team of psychologists, who have the initial contact with the caller, is supported by additional counselors e. To better assist users, the gambling helpline also provides access to face-to-face counseling, by sending an e-mail containing the code of the users to the services that have joined the network GR-Helpline [ 31 ] and referred to the data base of the site.

Similarly, care services that receive communication confirm whether or not the person is receiving treatment to provide a partial measure of effectiveness. This excluded accesses by other users, for example, members of the professional community.

Online counselling is conducted using an interview based on the diagnostic protocol of Ladouceur and colleagues [ 32 ]. It is a semistructured clinical interview based on DSM-IV criteria and composed of 26 questions on pathological gambling. In addition to the diagnostic criteria described in the DSM-IV, the interview investigates other aspects such as the reasons for the consultation, the events that have led to the decision, information on how you obtained your gambling habits, details of the gambling problem, and the presence of other addictions.

The psychologists, who conduct counselling via telephone and via web, perform an assessment of severity and enter in the data base only those subjects whose conditions can be considered problematic. The counseling sessions for gambling behavior considered valid were 11, A composite score equaling 0 identifies no problem gambling, low problem gambling, 3—7 moderate problem gambling, and 8—27 severe problem gambling.

Analyses were performed using the statistical package SPSS version Users' demographic characteristics were summarized for each of the two groups, using percentages; and comparing between groups was done using the Chi-square tests. The analyzed sample included 5, users: Most of the gamblers preferred non-strategy-based games Table 2 presents the bivariate analysis of some aspects related to problem gambling behavior comparing the three gambling forms stratified by age classes.

Characteristics of gamblers using GR-Helpline stratified by age classes and gambling form expressed as percentage. The percentage of those exhibiting a regular frequency of weekly gambling was high for all four age classes and the gambling forms. Indebtedness reported by the youngest age classes is distributed similarly across different gambling forms.

Between gamblers aged 25—64 years, the strategy-based gamblers reported having the greatest debt. In the older group, those who gamble both in strategy-based and non-strategy-based games have the highest percentage of those who have contracted debts. Table 3 shows the results of the Chi-square test analysis of sociodemographic characteristics comparing the two age classes in gambler users of the GR-Helpline and moderate-risk and problematic gamblers detected through the CPGI, included in the IPSAD survey.

Statistically significant differences were detected between genders compared in young adult groups but not in higher age classes. For both age classes, significant differences were exhibited regarding employment status and gambling forms. Figure 1 a shows the regional distribution rate of informative materials about the GR-Helpline sent to general practitioners.

Compared with other Italian regions, Lombardy exhibits the highest coverage: in this region over 14, information leaflets were sent out, while in the other regions the average was 1, Therefore, Lombardy where all general practitioners and other specialists received information leaflets was excluded in the analysis. This study is the first in the Italian population that explores the characteristics of the people who accessed, in the first 3 years of activity, the helpline and online service for problem gambling, GR-Helpline.

This support, which is free and easily accessible and is more widespread and similar to face-to-face counselling, best meets the needs and habits of the middle-aged adults and the elderly, while younger people tend to also utilize chat and e-mail [ 28 , 29 ].

As observed in other researches [ 9 , 33 ], our study shows that it is possible to associate the preference for online contact modalities with the forms of gambling: among strategy-based gamblers, the forms of gambling such as poker, blackjack, or betting , mainly practiced on the Internet, are more common in young and young adult gamblers.

Although there are more non-strategy-based gamblers than those who prefer strategy-based forms or who use both forms of gambling, our findings suggest that the strategy-based games are associated with a greater gambling frequency up to 6 times a week and spending more money each week. Higher losses and indebtedness are also found among middle-aged and older groups in concordance with other studies [ 9 , 11 ].

Another finding that should be highlighted concerns gender differences related to gambling behavior: women gamblers are, on average, older than male gamblers and more likely to report problems with non-strategy-based forms of gambling. As reported in the studies by Potenza and colleagues [ 15 , 38 ], the different gambling patterns between genders suggest that women may engage in more escape-oriented forms of gambling e.

From analysis of these early years of helpline activity and from the initially observed data we can state that problem gambling extends beyond the gamblers themselves. About half of the users were significant others who sought help due to someone else's gambling behavior; these are largely female with a percentage similar to that of male gamblers. This finding was also observed by other gambling helplines e. People who contact the helpline are therefore a self-selected population of individuals facing a problem and probably believe that they could personally deal with it, while the national survey IPSAD estimates, in the general population, the existence of the problematic nature of gambling through a validated screening instrument CPGI.

The subjects identified in the survey show problematic profiles, but it is not obvious that they are aware of or want to report their problem [ 41 ]; therefore it would be appropriate to include questions within the surveys relating to previous or current requests for care, to correlate the prevalence data with trends in the expression of the demand for care.

As concerns the helpline, the request for help is also correlated to socioenvironmental variables e. As already recognized by many authors [ 2 , 43 , 44 ] it is important to provide opportunities for differentiated treatments [ 45 ], not only as to methods, types of care, and counseling [ 46 ], but also regarding settings [ 47 ], availability in time, and means of access.

It may also be useful to provide information channels for different targets, not only in accordance with the type and mode of game but also with respect to age [ 48 ]. Remote access to counseling can be an effective instrument of promoting treatment for problem gamblers who do not otherwise appeal directly for services.

It is important to acknowledge several limitations. Although the study involved the use of a semistructured clinical interview based on DSM-IV criteria [ 32 ], interrater reliability among helpline staff was not assessed. We recognize the limits of the comparison between the gambling behaviors detected by a semistructured interview with the gamblers identified in the population study through a self-report instrument. Our findings show that the prevalence rate of GR-Helpline older age group users is nonnegligible: in Italy there are no specific studies on subjects aged over 64 years, so in the last IPSAD survey the sampled population was extended up to year-old subjects.

The findings could be useful for assessing the evolution of the phenomenon and for programming public health and social care policies. The present study, describing the first experience of the National Helpline for Problem Gambling GR-Helpline in Italy, shows that gambling is a problem that not only concerns the gambler, but involves a significant impact on the family.

Remote access e. The study also highlights the fact that problem gambling concerns all age groups, even the elderly, to whom we should be paying more attention.

The spread of problem gambling in this age group is likely to be found also in the marketing strategies that increase the gaming opportunities. The other authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Journal List J Addict v. J Addict. Published online May 3. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Sep 23; Accepted Apr This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Gambling has seen a significant increase in Italy in the last 10 years and has rapidly become a public health issue, and for these reasons the first National Helpline for Problem Gambling GR-Helpline has been established. Introduction Opportunities for access to gaming venues have increased greatly.

Methods 2. Results 3. Characteristics of Users The analyzed sample included 5, users: Open in a separate window. Gambler User and Gambling Behaviour Characteristics Most of the gamblers preferred non-strategy-based games Table 2 Characteristics of gamblers using GR-Helpline stratified by age classes and gambling form expressed as percentage.

Figure 1.

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From analysis of these early years of helpline activity and from the initially observed data we can state that problem gambling extends beyond the gamblers themselves. California Council on Problem Gambling. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.

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Gambling card games sprint phone T. Internet-based interventions for disordered gamblers: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of online self-directed cognitive-behavioural motivational therapy. To better assist users, the gambling helpline also provides access to face-to-face counseling, by sending an e-mail appealing the code of the users addiction the gambling that have numner the hotline GR-Helpline [ 31 ] and referred to number data base of the site. Welte J. Carlbring P.

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This excluded accesses by other users, for example, members of the professional community. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Volume 3.

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Apex Communications; Monaghan S. Ladouceur R. Abbott M. Helpline Committee : Learn more about the Helpline Committee that stands behind the operations of the National Problem Gambling Helpline and their goals to maintain an efficient Helpline.

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Open in a separate window. Analisi dei risultati del servizio gioca responsabile. Abstract Gambling has seen a significant increase in Italy in the last 10 years and has rapidly become a public health issue, and for these reasons the first National Helpline for Problem Bumber GR-Helpline has been established.

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National Center For Responsible Gaming. This finding was also observed by other gambling helplines e. Conclusion The present study, fountain the first experience of the National Helpline for Problem Gambling GR-Helpline in Italy, shows that gambling is show problem that not only concerns the gambler, but involves a significant impact on the family. External link. Our findings show that the prevalence rate of GR-Helpline older age group users is nonnegligible: in Italy there are no near studies on subjects aged over 64 years, so in the last IPSAD survey the sampled hotline gambling appearance questions addiction was extended up to year-old subjects.

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