Characteristics of gamblers using a national online counselling service for problem gambling

Abstract

Immediate interventions for a range of health concerns are increasingly being delivered online due to their ease of access and potential to attract new treatment cohorts. This paper describes the development and implementation of a national Australian real time chat and email service for problem gambling. Between September 2009 and September 2011, over 85,000 people visited Gambling Help Online. In addition, 1,722 people engaged in real time chat with trained gambling counsellors, while 299 accessed the email support program. Almost 70 % of people accessing these programs were seeking treatment for the first time, with email contacts significantly more likely to be new treatment seekers (78.0 %) compared with chat clients (68.1 %). Chat clients were more likely to be male than female and aged under 40 years, while email clients, while still highly accessed by young males, were more often female and aged over 40 years. These initial findings suggest that online counselling provides an important alternate mode of service delivery, which is attractive to new treatment seekers. Further research is required to determine the efficacy and impact of this service type on long-term gambling outcomes.

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