Deakin University
dowling-manaakiacognitive-2020.pdf (1.11 MB)

Manaaki - a cognitive behavioral therapy mobile health app to support people experiencing gambling problems: a randomized control trial protocol

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posted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by G Humphrey, J Chu, Nicki DowlingNicki Dowling, S Rodda, Stephanie MerkourisStephanie Merkouris, V Parag, D Newcombe, E Ho, V Nosa, R Ruwhui-Collins, R Whittaker, C Bullen
Background: The low utilisation of current treatment services by people with gambling problems highlights the need to explore new modalities of delivering treatment interventions. This protocol presents the design of a pragmatic randomized control trial aimed at assessing the effectiveness and acceptability of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered via a mobile app for people with self-reported gambling problems. Methods: An innovative CBT mobile app, based on Deakin University's GamblingLess online program, has been adapted with end-users (Manaaki). Six intervention modules have been created. These are interwoven with visual themes to represent a journey of recovery and include attributes such as avatars, videos, and animations to support end-user engagement. An audio facility is used throughout the app to cater for different learning styles. Personalizing the app has been accomplished by using greetings in the participant's language and their name (e.g. Kia ora Tāne) and by creating personalized feedback. A pragmatic, randomized control two-arm single-blind trial, will be conducted in New Zealand. We aim to recruit 284 individuals. Eligible participants are ≥18 years old, seeking help for their gambling, have access to a smartphone capable of downloading an app, able to understand the English language and are willing to provide follow-up information at scheduled time points. Allocation is 1:1, stratified by ethnicity, gender, and gambling symptom severity based on the Gambling Symptom Assessment Scale (G-SAS). The intervention group will receive the full mobile cognitive behavioural programme and the waitlist group will receive a simple app that counts down the time left before they have access to the full app and the links to the data collection tools. Data collection for both groups are: baseline, 4-, 8-, and 12-weeks post-randomisation. The primary outcome is a change in G-SAS scores. Secondary measures include changes in gambling urges, frequency, expenditure, and readiness to change. Indices of app engagement, utilisation and acceptability will be collected throughout the delivery of the intervention. Discussion: If effective, this study will contribute to the improvement of health outcomes for people experiencing gambling problems and have great potential to reach population groups who do not readily engage with current treatment services. Ethics approval: NZ Health and Disability Ethics Committee (Ref: 19/STH/204) Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTRN 12619001605189) Registered 1 November 2019.



BMC public health



Article number



1 - 11


BioMed Central


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal