Barriers to and reasons for treatment initiation among gambling help-line callers

Abstract

Identifying barriers to seeking treatment is essential for increasing problem gambler treatment initiation in the community, given that as few as 1 in 10 problem gamblers ever seek treatment. Further, many problem gamblers who take the initial step of contacting problem gambling help-lines do not subsequently go on to attend face-to-face treatment. There is limited research examining reasons for attending treatment among this population. This study addressed these gaps in the literature by examining barriers and attractions to treatment among callers to the State of Michigan Problem Gambling Help-line. In total, 143 callers (n = 86 women) completed the Barriers to Treatment for Problem Gambling (BTPG) questionnaire and responded to open-ended questions regarding barriers to and reasons for treatment initiation, as part of a telephone interview. Greater endorsement of barriers to treatment was associated with a lower likelihood of initiating treatment, especially perceived absence of problem and treatment unavailability. Correspondingly, problem gamblers who identified more reasons to attend treatment were more likely to attend, with positive treatment perceptions being the most influential. These findings can help get people into treatment by addressing barriers and fostering reasons for attending treatment, as well as reminding clinicians of the importance of identifying and addressing individual treatment barriers among patients with problem gambling.

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