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Gamblers seeking online help are active help-seekers: Time to support autonomy and competence
journal contributionposted on 2018-12-01, 00:00 authored by Simone RoddaSimone Rodda, Nicki DowlingNicki Dowling, D I Lubman
Research investigating rates of help-seeking for problem gambling has traditionally focused on the uptake of face-to-face gambling services alone, despite the World Health Organisation defining help-seeking as any action or activity undertaken to improve or resolve emotional, psychological or behavioural problems. The primary aim of this study is to examine the full range of help-seeking options utilised by gamblers, and to determine whether administering a comprehensive list of help options yields higher help-seeking rates than a single item measure. A one-item and expanded 14-item help-seeking Questionnaire (the Help-Seeking Questionnaire; HSQ) were administered to 277 problem gamblers seeking help online. We found the 14-item HSQ yielded a significantly higher level of lifetime professional help-seeking (70%) compared to the one-item measure (22%). When we included self-directed activities, 93% of gamblers reported they had previously attempted at least one activity to reduce their gambling. Current measurement of help-seeking appears to underestimate the range of activities currently undertaken by gamblers to reduce their gambling. Surveys need to include the one-item HSQ (over the past 12 months have you sought professional help or advice (online, by phone, or in person), support from family or friends, or did something by yourself to limit or reduce your gambling?) or the three-item HSQ which measures engagement of face-to-face services (i.e., counselling, advice, groups), distance-based (i.e., anonymous telephone, online) and self-directed (i.e., activities not involving professional oversight) activities separately. The full 14-item screen can be administered when brief screens are positive to ensure accurate measurement of help-seeking.