Parent problem gambling: A systematic review of prevention programs for children

Abstract

Parent problem gambling (PG) has pervasive adverse effects on children. These children experience considerable losses such as loss of trust, loss of safety and stability, as well as financial and emotional losses. They are at greater risk for maltreatment and mental health disorders, and they are also at risk for intergenerational transmission of PG. These children are two to four times more likely to develop PG than children of non-PG parents. To date, there has been a dearth of research examining the impact of parent PG on children, and even less research focusing on reducing risks in children of PG parents. The goal of this systematic review was to identify PG prevention programs for children and examine the types of prevention used and whether these programs target specific subgroups. Our search retained 16 studies examining PG prevention programs for children. Results indicated that all of the PG prevention programs in the selected studies are universal and do not target children of PG parents or any other specific subgroups. A large gap is the absence of secondary and tertiary PG prevention programs for children. Another gap is the lack of family focused prevention strategies which the substance use literature has shown to be the most effective form of prevention. Further research is needed on parent PG and ways of reducing risks and increasing protective factors in children and families. A public health framework must be adopted to delay onset, reduce risks and minimize consequences in children of PG parents.

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