Description and pre-post evaluation of a telephone and internet based treatment programme for pathological gambling in Norway: A pilot study

Abstract

Although the effectiveness of treatments for pathological gamblers is gaining support, only 10% of pathological gamblers seek treatment. Providing treatment via the Internet may lower the thresholds for treatment seeking. A new telephone and Internet based treatment programme for pathological gamblers is presented in this article, along with a pre-post evaluation of the programme. The participants (N = 112) were problem gamblers who were either self-referred or referred by their general practitioner. Data from post-treatment and 3-month follow-up are evaluated. The results suggest that using Internet and telephone-assisted treatment interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of pathological gambling (measured by the South Oaks Gambling Screen – Revised). The intervention was also associated with improvement on cognitive distortions, measured by the Gamblers Belief Questionnaire, and general psychological distress and psychopathology as measured by the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised. Although Internet-based treatment programmes have been suggested to have advantages compared to traditional face-to-face therapy, research in this area is scarce. This pilot study contributes to the growing literature in this area, and provides tentative support for the effectiveness of Internet based treatment interventions for pathological gamblers.

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