E-Mental health interventions for the treatment of gambling

Abstract

Gambling Disorder (GD) is a complex psychopathological phenomenon, characterized by the interaction of multiple etiological factors and a very heterogeneous symptomatological expression. Currently many questions remain concerning the best way of treating GD. Indeed, the traditional used (cognitive) behavioral interventions have at best a modest effect size. In addiction, there remains a large treatment gap, i.e. less than 10% of pathological gamblers ever seek help and enter treatment. E-health interventions could potentially help to close this gap. Cognitive bias modification (CBM) refers to a class of cognitive training paradigms that target specific automatic attentional, behavioral or evaluative biases triggered by addiction-related cues. These biases have repeatedly been shown to play an important role in addiction. Recently a number of studies have shown that modifying these biases has been effective in the treatment of different types of addictions, e.g. alcohol use disorders. An online Approach Bias Modification program, testing both Attention Bias Modification (ABM) and Approach Bias Modification (AppBM), is currently tested with Belgian and Dutch problem and disordered gamblers. Personalized motivational feedback has been added to the training program, to increase training adherence and prevent dropout. The same research group is also launching a second web-based study combining online AppBM with an online standard, protocoled, cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT) program with guidance of a trained therapist. Participants receive nine CBT sessions through online chat with the therapist and, concurrently, nine sessions of AppBM. Preliminary results will be discussed.

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