Campus community readiness and the prevention of gambling problems


Gambling disorder is a behavioral addiction that disproportionally affects college students as a population group and can disrupt college careers. While gambling disorder has not traditionally been one that institutions of higher education have addressed, the rapid growth of legalized gambling in the United States and the resulting widespread availability and acceptability of gambling in general have led to calls for policies and programs to prevent the negative consequences that even mild to moderate gambling disorder can cause. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine the stage of readiness of a university campus community to address the issue of students’ disordered gambling, to identify the barriers and needs of the community prior to the implementation of disordered gambling prevention on campus, and to explore the reliability of using the Community Readiness Tool (Oetting, 2014) as a repeated measure tool over time to appraise changes in levels of community readiness, particularly when re-interviewing the same key informants.

Eleven mid-level university administrators participated in the study. Each participant was interviewed using an adapted version of the CRT. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and scored according to the standard scoring procedures. Grounded theory analysis was used for the purpose of identifying barriers and needs of the community not fully captured by the CRT. The results indicated an overall lack of awareness of problem gambling as a higher education issue. Eight barriers and nine needs emerged from the qualitative analysis. To examine the use of the CRT as a repeated measure, four participants were re-interviewed one year after their initial interview, and scores were compared to both their own original scores and the scores of a second cohort of participants who were interviewed only once but at the same time. There were no significant differences in overall CRT scores from time 1 to time 2, or between the two cohorts of participants. Implications for appropriate prevention programming and future research are discussed.

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