GPs and problem gambling: Can they help with identification and early intervention?

Abstract

General Practitioners (GPs) are well placed to identify problem gamblers and provide early intervention. To date there is no evidence to suggest that GP's are routinely screening patients for potential gambling problems. This paper discusses the prevalence of problem gambling, the links with other health problems and ways that GPs can assist. Results from a pilot project that provided educational resources to GPS are also discussed. Suitable screening tools are available that could easily be used by GPs to assess the possibility of gambling problems in patients who may be at increased risk but do not seek help. Early identification and intervention may help prevent a gambling habit escalating to a serious problem. More work needs to be done to increase awareness with GPs of the extent of problem gambling in our community and to alert patients to the fact that gambling can affect their health and that GPs can help.

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