Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Research Publications

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    Gambling-related harms to concerned significant others: A national Australian prevalence study
    HING, NERILEE ; RUSSELL, ALEXMT ; BROWNE, MATTHEW ; ROCKLOFF, MATTHEW ; TULLOCH, CATHERINE ; RAWAT, VIJAY ; GREER, NANCY ; DOWLING, NICKIA ; MERKOURIS, STEPHANIES ; KING, DANIELL ; STEVENS, MATTHEW ; SALONEN, ANNEH ; BREEN, HELEN ; WOO, LINDA (AKADEMIAI KIADO ZRT, 2022-06-01)
    Background and aims: Gambling-related harm to concerned significant others (CSOs) is an important public health issue since it reduces CSOs' health and wellbeing in numerous life domains. This study aimed to 1) estimate the first national prevalence of CSOs harmed by gambling in Australia; 2) identify the characteristics of CSOs most at risk of harm from another person's gambling; 3) compare the types and number of harms experienced by CSOs based on their relationship to the person who gambles; and 4) compare the number of harms experienced by CSOs by self-identified gender. Methods: Based on a national CATI survey weighted to population norms, 11,560 respondents reported whether they had been personally and negatively affected by another person's gambling in the past 12 months; and if so, answered detailed questions about the harms experienced from the person's gambling who had harmed them the most. Results: Past-year prevalence of gambling-related harm to adult Australian CSOs was (6.0%; 95% CI 5.6%-6.5%). CSOs most commonly reported emotional harms, followed by relationship, financial, health and vocational harms, respectively. Former partners reported the most harm, followed by current partners, other family members and non-family members, respectively. Female CSOs were more likely to report more harm and being harmed by a partner or other family member, and male CSOs from a non-family member. Discussion and conclusions: The findings provide new insights into the wider societal burden of gambling and inform measures aimed at reducing harm to CSOs from gambling and supporting them to seek help.
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    Affected other interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis across addictions
    Merkouris, SS ; Rodda, SN ; Dowling, NA (WILEY, 2022-02-21)
    BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Individuals impacted by someone else's alcohol, illicit drug, gambling and gaming problems (affected others) experience extensive harms. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions delivered to affected others across addictions. METHODS: This review adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. An electronic database search (PsycInfo, Medline, Cinahl and EMBASE) of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published until August 2021 was conducted. RCTs with passive control groups, evaluating psychosocial tertiary interventions delivered to affected others of people with addictions (problematic alcohol use, substance use, gambling or gaming) that did not require the involvement of the addicted person, were included. RESULTS: Twenty included studies, published in 22 articles, mainly evaluated interventions for alcohol use, followed by gambling and illicit drugs, with none investigating gaming interventions. The interventions mainly targeted partners/spouses and focused upon improving affected other outcomes, addicted person outcomes or both. Meta-analyses revealed beneficial intervention effects over control groups on some affected other (depressive symptomatology [standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.48, 95% confidence interval (CI) = -0.67, -0.29], life satisfaction (SMD = -0.37, 95% CI = -0.71, -0.03) and coping style (SMD = -1.33, 95% CI = -1.87, -0.79), addicted person [treatment entry, risk ratio (RR) = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.75-0.98] and relationship functioning outcomes (marital discord, SMD = -0.40, 95% CI = -0.61, -0.18) at post-intervention. No beneficial intervention effects were identified at short-term follow-up (4-11 months post-treatment). The beneficial intervention effects identified at post-treatment remained when limiting to studies of alcohol use and therapist-delivered interventions. CONCLUSIONS: Psychosocial interventions delivered to affected others of people with addictions (problematic alcohol use, substance use, gambling or gaming) may be effective in improving some, but not all, affected other (depression, life satisfaction, coping), addicted person (treatment) and relationship functioning (marital discord) outcomes for affected others across the addictions, but the conclusion remains tentative due to limited studies and methodological limitations.
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    Adapting an Evidence-Based e-Learning Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program Into a Mobile App for People Experiencing Gambling-Related Problems: Formative Study.
    Humphrey, G ; Chu, JT ; Ruwhiu-Collins, R ; Erick-Peleti, S ; Dowling, N ; Merkouris, S ; Newcombe, D ; Rodda, S ; Ho, E ; Nosa, V ; Parag, V ; Bullen, C (JMIR Publications Inc., 2022-03-25)
    BACKGROUND: Many people who experience harm and problems from gambling do not seek treatment from gambling treatment services because of personal and resource barriers. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions are widely used across diverse health care areas and populations. However, there are few in the gambling harm field, despite their potential as an additional modality for delivering treatment and support. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to understand the needs, preferences, and priorities of people experiencing gambling harms and who are potential end users of a cognitive behavioral therapy mHealth intervention to inform design, features, and functions. METHODS: Drawing on a mixed methods approach, we used creators and domain experts to review the GAMBLINGLESS web-based program and convert it into an mHealth prototype. Each module was reviewed against the original evidence base to maintain its intended fidelity and conceptual integrity. Early wireframes, design ideas (look, feel, and function), and content examples were developed to initiate discussions with end users. Using a cocreation process with a young adult, a Māori, and a Pasifika peoples group, all with experiences of problem or harmful gambling, we undertook 6 focus groups: 2 cycles per group. In each focus group, participants identified preferences, features, and functions for inclusion in the final design and content of the mHealth intervention. RESULTS: Over 3 months, the GAMBLINGLESS web-based intervention was reviewed and remapped from 4 modules to 6. This revised program is based on the principles underpinning the transtheoretical model, in which it is recognized that some end users will be more ready to change than others. Change is a process that unfolds over time, and a nonlinear progression is common. Different intervention pathways were identified to reflect the end users' stage of change. In all, 2 cycles of focus groups were then conducted, with 30 unique participants (13 Māori, 9 Pasifika, and 8 young adults) in the first session and 18 participants (7 Māori, 6 Pasifika, and 5 young adults) in the second session. Prototype examples demonstrably reflected the focus group discussions and ideas, and the features, functions, and designs of the Manaaki app were finalized. Attributes such as personalization, cultural relevance, and positive framing were identified as the key. Congruence of the final app attributes with the conceptual frameworks of the original program was also confirmed. CONCLUSIONS: Those who experience gambling harms may not seek help. Developing and demonstrating the effectiveness of new modalities to provide treatment and support are required. mHealth has the potential to deliver interventions directly to the end user. Weaving the underpinning theory and existing evidence of effective treatment with end-user input into the design and development of mHealth interventions does not guarantee success. However, it provides a foundation for framing the intervention's mechanism, context, and content, and arguably provides a greater chance of demonstrating effectiveness.
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    Gambling disorder in the UK: key research priorities and the urgent need for independent research funding
    Bowden-Jones, H ; Hook, RW ; Grant, JE ; Ioannidis, K ; Corazza, O ; Fineberg, NA ; Singer, BF ; Roberts, A ; Bethlehem, R ; Dymond, S ; Romero-Garcia, R ; Robbins, TW ; Cortese, S ; Thomas, SA ; Sahakian, BJ ; Dowling, NA ; Chamberlain, SR (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-04-01)
    Gambling in the modern era is pervasive owing to the variety of gambling opportunities available, including those that use technology (eg, online applications on smartphones). Although many people gamble recreationally without undue negative effects, a sizeable subset of individuals develop disordered gambling, which is associated with marked functional impairment including other mental health problems, relationship problems, bankruptcy, suicidality, and criminality. The National UK Research Network for Behavioural Addictions (NUK-BA) was established to promote understanding of, research into, and treatments for behavioural addictions including gambling disorder, which is the only formally recognised behavioural addiction. In this Health Policy paper, we outline the status of research and treatment for disordered gambling in the UK (including funding issues) and key research that should be conducted to establish the magnitude of the problem, vulnerability and resilience factors, the underlying neurobiology, long-term consequences, and treatment opportunities. In particular, we emphasise the need to: (1) conduct independent longitudinal research into the prevalence of disordered gambling (including gambling disorder and at-risk gambling), and gambling harms, including in vulnerable and minoritised groups; (2) select and refine the most suitable pragmatic measurement tools; (3) identify predictors (eg, vulnerability and resilience markers) of disordered gambling in people who gamble recreationally, including in vulnerable and minoritised groups; (4) conduct randomised controlled trials on psychological interventions and pharmacotherapy for gambling disorder; (5) improve understanding of the neurobiological basis of gambling disorder, including impulsivity and compulsivity, genetics, and biomarkers; and (6) develop clinical guidelines based on the best contemporary research evidence to guide effective clinical interventions. We also highlight the need to consider what can be learnt from approaches towards mitigating gambling-related harm in other countries.
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    The Intergenerational Transmission of At-Risk/Problem Gambling: The Moderating Role of Parenting Practices
    Dowling, NA ; Shandley, KA ; Oldenhof, E ; Affleck, JM ; Youssef, GJ ; Frydenberg, E ; Thomas, SA ; Jackson, AC (WILEY, 2017-10-01)
    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Although parenting practices are articulated as underlying mechanisms or protective factors in several theoretical models, their role in the intergenerational transmission of gambling problems has received limited research attention. This study therefore examined the degree to which parenting practices (positive parenting, parental involvement, and inconsistent discipline) moderated the intergenerational transmission of paternal and maternal problem gambling. METHODS: Students aged 12-18 years (N = 612) recruited from 17 Australian secondary schools completed a survey measuring parental problem gambling, problem gambling severity, and parenting practices. RESULTS: Participants endorsing paternal problem gambling (23.3%) were 4.3 times more likely to be classified as at-risk/problem gamblers than their peers (5.4%). Participants endorsing maternal problem gambling (6.9%) were no more likely than their peers (4.0%) to be classified as at-risk/problem gamblers. Paternal problem gambling was a significant predictor of offspring at-risk/problem gambling after controlling for maternal problem gambling and participant demographic characteristics. The relationship between maternal problem gambling and offspring at-risk/problem gambling was buffered by parental involvement. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Paternal problem gambling may be important in the development of adolescent at-risk/problem gambling behaviours and higher levels of parental involvement buffers the influence of maternal problem gambling in the development of offspring gambling problems. Further research is therefore required to identify factors that attenuate the seemingly greater risk of transmission associated with paternal gambling problems. SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Parental involvement is a potential candidate for prevention and intervention efforts designed to reduce the intergenerational transmission of gambling problems. (Am J Addict 2017;26:707-712).
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    Risk and protective factors for the development of gambling-related harms and problems among Australian sexual minority men
    Bush, R ; Russell, AMT ; Staiger, PK ; Waling, A ; Dowling, NA (SPRINGERNATURE, 2021-06-29)
    BACKGROUND: Sexual minority men (SMM) often experience stressful social environments dominated by stigma and discrimination. SMM are typically more likely than heterosexual men to engage in certain risky behaviours such as problem gambling. This study aimed to compare gambling behaviour among SMM and examine potential risk factors (erroneous gambling cognitions, gambling outcome expectancies, hazardous alcohol use, impulsivity, and psychological distress; as well as perceived stigma and discrimination for the SMM participants) and potential protective factors (resilience, social support, and community connectedness) for problem gambling severity and gambling-related harms among SMM living in Australia. METHODS: An online survey, with an over-representation of SMM participants and problem, moderate-risk, and low-risk gamblers, was completed by 101 SMM (mean age = 28.5) and 207 heterosexual men (mean age = 26.4). RESULTS: SMM were found to have significantly lower levels of problem gambling severity compared with heterosexual men, and report significantly lower gambling participation, frequencies and expenditure on any gambling activity, casino table games, horse racing/greyhound betting, sports betting, and keno. However, in the SMM group, 38.3% were classified in the problem gambling category of the Problem Gambling Severity Index and 27.6% were classified in the moderate-risk gambling category. There were no significant differences between groups in gambling-related harms. Multiple regression analyses revealed that problem gambling severity and related harms were independently predicted by higher levels of impulsivity and erroneous gambling cognitions for both groups. CONCLUSIONS: Lower frequency of gambling behaviours among SMM and similar risk factors predicting problem gambling severity/harms for both groups suggests that problem gambling is not pronounced among SMM. This study adds new evidence to the gambling literature which can be used as comparative benchmarks for future research.
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    An Examination of Clinician Responses to Problem Gambling in Community Mental Health Services
    Manning, V ; Dowling, NA ; Rodda, SN ; Cheetham, A ; Lubman, D (MDPI, 2020-07-01)
    Gambling problems commonly co-occur with other mental health problems. However, screening for problem gambling (PG) rarely takes place within mental health treatment settings. The aim of the current study was to examine the way in which mental health clinicians respond to PG issues. Participants (n = 281) were recruited from a range of mental health services in Victoria, Australia. The majority of clinicians reported that at least some of their caseload was affected by gambling problems. Clinicians displayed moderate levels of knowledge about the reciprocal impact of gambling problems and mental health but had limited knowledge of screening tools to detect PG. Whilst 77% reported that they screened for PG, only 16% did so "often" or "always" and few expressed confidence in their ability to treat PG. However, only 12.5% reported receiving previous training in PG, and those that had, reported higher levels of knowledge about gambling in the context of mental illness, more positive attitudes about responding to gambling issues, and more confidence in detecting/screening for PG. In conclusion, the findings highlight the need to upskill mental health clinicians so they can better identify and manage PG and point towards opportunities for enhanced integrated working with gambling services.
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    Brief Report: Problem Gambling in International and Domestic University Students
    Dowling, NA ; Brown, M ; Aarsman, S ; Merkouris, SS (WILEY, 2019-12-03)
    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: International students comprise an ethnic minority subpopulation who may be at increased risk for the development of gambling problems. This study aimed to explore the psychosocial factors associated with gambling problems in international and domestic university students in Australia. METHODS: One hundred seventy-three (n = 173) university students (127 domestic, 45 international) completed measures of gambling participation, problem gambling, psychosocial factors (depression, anxiety, perceived social support, loneliness, gambling-related cognitive distortions) and English language difficulties. RESULTS: Gambling participation, but not problem gambling status, was lower in international than domestic students. Only anxiety and cognitive distortions were associated with problem gambling in domestic students; and only cognitive distortions were associated with problem gambling in international students. International student status failed to moderate the relationships between any psychosocial factor and problem gambling status. CONCLUSIONS AND SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Future research is required to elucidate problem gambling risk and protective factors in this ethnic minority subgroup, with a view to guide culturally sensitive initiatives. (Am J Addict 2019;00:00-00).
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    Screening for problem gambling within mental health services: a comparison of the classification accuracy of brief instruments
    Dowling, NA ; Merkouris, SS ; Manning, V ; Volberg, R ; Lee, SJ ; Rodda, SN ; Lubman, DI (WILEY, 2018-06-01)
    BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Despite the over-representation of people with gambling problems in mental health populations, there is limited information available to guide the selection of brief screening instruments within mental health services. The primary aim was to compare the classification accuracy of nine brief problem gambling screening instruments (two to five items) with a reference standard among patients accessing mental health services. DESIGN: The classification accuracy of nine brief screening instruments was compared with multiple cut-off scores on a reference standard. SETTING: Eight mental health services in Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 837 patients were recruited consecutively between June 2015 and January 2016. MEASUREMENTS: The brief screening instruments were the Lie/Bet Questionnaire, Brief Problem Gambling Screen (BPGS) (two- to five-item versions), NODS-CLiP, NODS-CLiP2, Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) and NODS-PERC. The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) was the reference standard. FINDINGS: The five-item BPGS was the only instrument displaying satisfactory classification accuracy in detecting any level of gambling problem (low-risk, moderate-risk or problem gambling) (sensitivity = 0.803, specificity = 0.982, diagnostic efficiency = 0.943). Several shorter instruments adequately detected both problem and moderate-risk, but not low-risk, gambling: two three-item instruments (NODS-CLiP, three-item BPGS) and two four-item instruments (NODS-PERC, four-item BPGS) (sensitivity = 0.854-0.966, specificity = 0.901-0.954, diagnostic efficiency = 0.908-0.941). The four-item instruments, however, did not provide any considerable advantage over the three-item instruments. Similarly, the very brief (two-item) instruments (Lie/Bet and two-item BPGS) adequately detected problem gambling (sensitivity = 0.811-0.868, specificity = 0.938-0.943, diagnostic efficiency = 0.933-0.934), but not moderate-risk or low-risk gambling. CONCLUSIONS: The optimal brief screening instrument for mental health services wanting to screen for any level of gambling problem is the five-item Brief Problem Gambling Screen (BPGS). Services wanting to employ a shorter instrument or to screen only for more severe gambling problems (moderate-risk/problem gambling) can employ the NODS-CLiP or the three-item BPGS. Services that are only able to accommodate a very brief instrument can employ the Lie/Bet Questionnaire or the two-item BPGS.
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    Gambling Participation and Problem Gambling Severity in a Stratified Random Survey: Findings from the Second Social and Economic Impact Study of Gambling in Tasmania
    Christensen, DR ; Dowling, NA ; Jackson, AC ; Thomas, SA (SPRINGER, 2015-12-01)
    Demographic characteristics associated with gambling participation and problem gambling severity were investigated in a stratified random survey in Tasmania, Australia. Computer-assisted telephone interviews were conducted in March 2011 resulting in a representative sample of 4,303 Tasmanian residents aged 18 years or older. Overall, 64.8% of Tasmanian adults reported participating in some form of gambling in the previous 12 months. The most common forms of gambling were lotteries (46.5%), keno (24.3%), instant scratch tickets (24.3%), and electronic gaming machines (20.5%). Gambling severity rates were estimated at non-gambling (34.8%), non-problem gambling (57.4%), low risk gambling (5.3%), moderate risk (1.8%), and problem gambling (.7%). Compared to Tasmanian gamblers as a whole significantly higher annual participation rates were reported by couples with no children, those in full time paid employment, and people who did not complete secondary school. Compared to Tasmanian gamblers as a whole significantly higher gambling frequencies were reported by males, people aged 65 or older, and people who were on pensions or were unable to work. Compared to Tasmanian gamblers as a whole significantly higher gambling expenditure was reported by males. The highest average expenditure was for horse and greyhound racing ($AUD 1,556), double the next highest gambling activity electronic gaming machines ($AUD 767). Compared to Tasmanian gamblers as a whole problem gamblers were significantly younger, in paid employment, reported lower incomes, and were born in Australia. Although gambling participation rates appear to be falling, problem gambling severity rates remain stable. These changes appear to reflect a maturing gambling market and the need for population specific harm minimisation strategies.