Barriers to treatment access for young problem gamblers


The rate of problem gambling is more than twice as high in adolescents as it is for adults (2%) (Ipsos MORI, 2009), and the younger the age of onset of problem gambling the more severe the problem can be in later life. It has been suggested that help-seeking for gambling problems is uncommon amongst young people (Gupta & Derevensky, 2000; Hardoon, Gupta & Derevensky, 2003) and a number of speculative reasons for this have been presented (Chevalier & Griffiths, 2004; Griffiths, 2001). However to date there is a paucity of empirical evidence which explore barriers to treatment access in young problem gamblers (Suurvali, 2009). The research aims were to generate empirical evidence to identify and explain barriers to treatment access for young problem gamblers in the UK. The main objectives were to i) Explore the attitudes and perceptions that young people hold towards problem gambling; ii) Investigate the potential barriers which may prevent young people from seeking treatment; and iii) To understand the salience of the identified barriers to treatment access amongst young problem gamblers. The research employed a mixed methods approach, incorporating exploratory studies, indepth interviews with problem gambling treatment professionals (n=11) and problem gamblers (n=6), and a study employing Q methodology to help understand the subjectivity of opinion on barriers to help-seeking (n=21). The main findings were that there are four main groups of barriers to treatment access for young people: treatment barriers; environmental barriers; social and motivational barriers and ‘gambler-centric’ barriers. These barriers are experienced in different ways by different participants, and the Q methodological study identified four main viewpoints among young problem gamblers as to why they may not seek treatment. 12 This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge, generating an empirical understanding of the subjective opinion on, and salience of barriers to, problem gambling help-seeking, as they are experienced by young problem gamblers, and empirically grounding previously identified barriers to treatment access in this population. A number of new barriers (emotional immaturity and poor verbal communication; lack of clinical skills in treatment providers; and lack of flexibility to suit client needs) were also identified.

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