Barriers to help-seeking for a gambling problem: The experiences of gamblers who have sought specialist assistance and the perceptions of those who have not

Abstract

This paper presents barriers to help-seeking data as reported by users of a national gambling helpline (help-seekers, HS, N = 125) as well as data pertaining to perceived barriers to seeking help as reported by gamblers recruited from the general population (non-help-seekers, NHS, N = 104). All data were collected via a structured, multi-modal survey. When asked to identify actual or perceived barriers to seeking help, responses indicative of pride (78% of HS participants, 84% of NHS participants), shame (73% of HS participants, 84% of NHS participants) or denial (87% of NHS participants) were most frequently reported. These three factors were also most often identified as the real or perceived primary barrier to help-seeking (collectively accounting for 55% of HS, and 60% of NHS, responses to this question) and were the only barriers to be identified by more than 10% of either HS and NHS participants without prompting. It was of note, however, that participants in both groups identified multiple barriers to help-seeking (mean of 6.7 and 12.2, respectively) and that, when presented with a list of 21 possible barrier items, NHS participants endorsed 19 of the listed items significantly more often than their HS counterparts. The implications of these findings, with respect to promoting greater or earlier help-seeking activity amongst problem gamblers, are discussed.

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