Gambling and the family: From the stress-coping-support perspective

Abstract

Aims: To apply the stress-coping-support perspective to the study of the effects of problem gambling in the family. Specifically, to examine the ways in which family members cope and the nature and sources of support they receive. To compare coping strategies of family members of gamblers with those of individuals living with other addictive behaviour in the family. Design: Cross-sectional interview and questionnaire study of close relatives of problem gamblers. Participants: Sixteen close family members of gamblers from separate families, mainly parents and partners. Data: Semi-structured interview; adapted version of the Coping Questionnaire (CQ). Findings: Data from the CQ and qualitative analysis of interview data suggested considerable use of 'engaged' (specifically controlling) ways of attempting to cope with such problems, comparable to the use of such strategies by relatives of people with alcohol or drug problems, but little use of 'tolerant-accepting' and 'withdrawal' ways. Interview data on the support received (or not) by family members confirmed previous research showing that relatives of people with addiction problems often feel unsupported, but particularly appreciate positive emotional and practical support for themselves and their problem gambling relatives. Conclusions: The stress-coping-support perspective, previously applied to families with alcohol and drug problems, also offers an appropriate framework for understanding problem gambling and the family.

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