Gender differences among helpline callers: Prospective study of gambling and psychosocial outcomes

Abstract

Despite the increasing amount of empirical research on gambling helplines (e.g., characteristics, effectiveness), little is known about gender differences on treatment outcomes following contact. The present research addresses this gap in the literature via secondary analysis of an uncontrolled outcome study of New Zealand's gambling helpline (N = 150). To this end, the present research had three aims; (a) explore gender differences (e.g., demographics, co-morbidities, gambling variables) among helpline callers using psychometrically robust measures, (b) assess whether gender predicts treatment utilization following contact and (c) assess whether systematic gender differences exist on gambling and psychosocial outcomes at 3-, 6- and 12-month follow-ups. The results revealed that at baseline, women compared to men, described greater problem severity and shorter problem duration, and were more likely to report electronic gaming machines as their most problematic form of gambling. Women also reported greater distress and lower quality of life. Men, despite less problem severity and distress, were more likely to access treatment following helpline contact. Importantly, both men and women reported significant and equivalent improvements in both gambling and psychosocial outcomes following helpline contact. The improved outcomes remained significant after controlling for treatment attendance. Although different approaches for women may be required by helplines if the goal is to refer callers to treatment, the results suggest that after calling the helpline, women reduced their problematic gambling and improved psychosocial functioning without further treatment.

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