Motivation-matched approach to the treatment of problem gambling: A case series pilot study

Abstract

The aim of the present case series was to provide a preliminary assessment of the utility of a motivation-matched treatment for problem gamblers. On the basis of their primary underlying motivations for gambling, 6 problem gamblers received either action-motivated (n = 4) or escape-motivated (n = 2) treatment. Drawing upon a cognitive-behavioural framework, this 6-session motivation-matched treatment was designed to address gamblers’ maladaptive motivations for gambling (i.e., the need or desire for “escape” or “action”), as well as the effects of conditioning and maladaptive thinking patterns unique to each gambling motive subtype. Assessments were conducted at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3- and 6-month follow-up. Primary outcome measures included gambling behaviour (i.e., gambling frequency, time, and money spent gambling), severity of gambling problems, and gambling-related impairment or disability; secondary outcome measures included gambling-related craving, gambling abstinence self-efficacy, positively and negatively reinforcing gambling situations, and gambling outcome expectancies. Overall, participants showed pre- to post-treatment improvements on the majority of these measures, with relatively less immediate post-treatment treatment gains observed on measures that assessed positively and negatively reinforcing gambling situations and gambling-related impairment or disability. However, treatment gains at the 3- and 6-month follow-up were shown for most participants on these latter measures as well. Findings suggest promise for this novel treatment approach. The next step in this line of research is to conduct a randomized, controlled trial to compare the efficacy of this motivation-matched treatment for disordered gambling with treatment as usual.

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