Developing an improved measure of risk and harm due to gambling: Characteristics of an improved instrument and the application of formative and reflective constructs

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with a general assessment of current measures of gambling risk, and introduce new developments in the design of these instruments. While most existing gambling screens (e.g., SOGS, DSM IV, CPGI and VGS) are designed for measuring problem gambling prevalence or diagnosing pathological gambling in a clinical setting, these tools may not serve to measure risk or to provide sufficient and actionable information for diverse gambling stakeholders. Hence, the authors suggest that the goal of a new gambling risk instrument be broader than that of conventional screens developed in the past. Firstly, we recommend that a new instrument needs to be designed as a self administration screen. It should be suitable for gamblers to identify their level of risk for developing gambling problems, as well as to alert them to the fact that they are suffering harm due to gambling if this is the case. Moreover, for gambling providers designing responsible gambling programs, the new measure should be appropriate for administration to their patrons/customers, and also should be accurate for all gambling environments (e.g., casinos as well as on-line). Finally, the same instrument could be used by policy makers to gage the risk levels in the general population as well as have a better idea of the range of harms that people are experiencing due gambling activities. Such an instrument (or instruments) needs to reflect the gambling habits of the current population, take into account the current offerings, gambling provider practices, vocabulary (terminology, vernacular, language), and technologies for game design and gambling delivery.

As a key weakness of past screens is that most of them have not been clearly formulated as either reflective or formative constructs, this paper also includes a discussion of the nature of formative and reflective constructs and how constructs of each type should be utilized in developing a new instrument to measure risk for gamblers. In the end, the authors conclude with a brief description of the research currently underway to implement the suggestions outlined in this paper.

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