Self-help not effective for problem gamblers

November 22, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Australia's first guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of problem gamblers highlight the importance of professional help for the thousands of Australians who struggle to control their gambling.

State Minister for Gaming, Michael O'Brien will launch the Guideline for Screening, Assessment and Treatment of in Problem Gamblingon Friday as part of the National Association of Gambling Studies annual conference.

The guide was developed by the Research and Treatment Centre (PGRTC), a collaboration between Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Government. It was based on a review of peer-reviewed research.

Recommendations emphasise the effectiveness of psychological interventions delivered by qualified health practitioners, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), rather than self-help treatments. 

Other recommended treatments include motivational interviewing, group therapies and the use of anti-addiction drug Naltrexone in some circumstances. The guidelines note that antidepressant medications should not be expected to reduce gambling severity in people with gambling problems alone.

Director of the PGRTC, Monash University's Professor Shane Thomas said the guide was developed for problem gambling services, practitioners and policy-makers.

"It's the first comprehensive, evidence-based guide for tackling problem gambling," Professor Thomas said.

"We expect the guidelines to consolidate current practices. CBT, the most highly recommended intervention, is already widely practiced." 

The Productivity Commission estimated that 2.1 per cent of have difficulty controlling their gambling. 

The guide, which has been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council, will be reviewed and updated every three to five years to incorporate the latest research.

An outline of the recommendations has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia, ahead of the release of the full on Friday. 

Explore further: Betting on good luck and 4-leaf clovers: Connection between impulsivity, superstitions

Related Stories

Stakes are high for problem gamblers

October 31, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- People with gambling problems are unlikely to identify as having a problem or to seek help unless they have experienced serious impacts or harms, according to new research released today.

Recommended for you

Oxytocin enhances spirituality, new study says

September 21, 2016

Oxytocin has been dubbed the "love hormone" for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research from Duke University suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.

Study reveals a biological link between stress and obesity

September 21, 2016

Metabolic and anxiety-related disorders both pose a significant healthcare burden, and are in the spotlight of contemporary research and therapeutic efforts. Although intuitively we assume that these two phenomena overlap, ...

Men with anxiety are more likely to die of cancer, study says

September 20, 2016

Men over 40 who are plagued with the omnipresent of generalized anxiety disorder are more than twice as likely to die of cancer than are men who do not have the mental affliction, new research finds. But for women who suffer ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.