Clinical characteristics and treatment readiness of male and female problem gamblers calling a state gambling helpline

Abstract

Helplines for problem gamblers play a critical role in a systems approach but more information is needed on the people who call. Men and women problem gamblers differ in the consequences of their gambling, and these differences likely affect motivation to change gambling behaviors. This study examined gender differences in gambling consequences and readiness to change gambling behaviors among callers to the State of Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline. In total, 202 callers (n = 118 women; n = 84 men) were interviewed by telephone and asked questions about their gambling severity, psychosocial consequences of gambling, experience with the help they received from the helpline, and treatment readiness as assessed using the Stages of Change model. Women reported significantly greater problem gambling severity and financial consequences than men. They were more likely to have a family history of alcoholism, more likely to have sought mental health and gambling treatment than men. Women also reported greater readiness for changing gambling behaviors, and this gender difference was mediated, in part, by problem gambling symptom severity. These data reveal some consistent and important differences between male and female problem gamblers that should be considered when developing helpline services.

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