Prevention of pathological gambling: A randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Although the gambling industry is expanding rapidly throughout North America and around the world, there are only a few empirically evaluated programs aimed at the prevention of pathological gambling (PG). The purpose of this study was to measure the effectiveness of a new prevention program aimed at PG. The Stop & Think! program was designed to teach at-risk video lottery terminal (VLT) gamblers cognitive restructuring and problem-solving skills that may help to prevent the development of PG. These skills were taught through a variety of methods - including an automated educational presentation, video and text vignettes, audio training tapes, and skill rehearsal. The program was evaluated using a randomized, 2-group experimental design with a wait-list control group and pre-, post-, and follow-up measures. Results indicated that, compared with the control group, the experimental group was less at risk for developing a gambling problem after the program. The experimental group endorsed fewer gambling-related cognitive distortions, engaged in less VLT gambling, and had lower scores on a measure of PG. The results of this study provide the basis for the implementation of the Stop & Think! program in the province of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and perhaps other jurisdictions too.

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