An evaluation of two United Kingdom online support forums designed to help people with gambling issues

Abstract

The study examined two United Kingdom online forums designed to support people with gambling problems and people affected by problem gambling (e.g., partners, relatives, and friends). The methods utilised were content analysis of 60 forum posts, online semi-structured interviews (n = 19), and an online survey (n = 121). The study found that the forums helped members to better understand and cope with their own gambling problems or with those of others. A lack of other alternative support, ease of access and availability, need for additional support, insight gained through posting and hearing other's stories, help in resisting urges to gamble, and perceived anonymity were all given as benefits of the forums. The forums were most popular with online gamblers, and had a higher ratio of females to males (with gambling problems) than any other comparable service. Significantly more females than males suggested that the forums helped them to cope better with their gambling problem. The utility of online forums for helping people dealing with gambling problems is discussed.

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