Measuring problem gambling: Evaluation of the Victorian gambling screen

Abstract

This document reports the outcomes of a study commissioned by the Gambling Research Panel concerning the Victorian Gambling Screen (VGS). The general conclusion with respect to the VGS is that the Flinders work was conducted to a high standard using proven and well-substantiated test development protocols. However, a more detailed explication of the conceptual and theoretical model informing its content and its specific purpose(s) would have been useful. Further validation of the tool involving a large validation study sample is required in the context of its specific purposes. It has good internal psychometric properties but the validation process requires further work. In the final section of the report, consideration is given to the important policy considerations flowing from the development of credible measures of problem gambling. It is argued that the development of credible measures to inform such research fits squarely within the requirements of government for evidence-based policy and practice. It is argued that in gambling policy the development of credible measures of problem gambling are the linchpin of future research and policy. The numbers and distribution of problem gamblers within the community have important implications for the design and delivery of services targeted at problem gamblers. Who they are, and where they are located, has a pivotal impact upon service design and funding. Clearly, there is a need to deliver services where they are needed. However the implications of the present study are broader than merely counting existing numbers in order to target service design and delivery, important as this may be. When there are credible measures of problem gambling, then it is possible to conduct studies that may better estimate the occurrence and patterns of problem gambling. This will also enable the development of more effective preventive strategies and measures by government and others, and an improved capacity to evaluate such solutions in a timely manner. Thus the development of problem gambling measures is far from just a technical exercise. The validation study informed by this report and due for completion in December 2003, should deliver a credible, reliable and practical set of measurement tools that will best serve the Victorian Government and community in future research related to gambling and problem gambling.

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