Stress, strain, coping and social support for affected family members attending the National Problem Gambling Clinic, London

Abstract

Aims were: to compare burden experienced by affected family members (AFMs) attending a problem gambling treatment clinic in London, England with that of AFMs affected by substance problems; to examine socio-demographic correlates of AFM burden; to evaluate change following an intervention designed for AFMs; and to test the assumption of the stress-strain-coping-support (SSCS) model that change in AFM coping is important. AFMs (N = 215) completed a gambling version of the short questionnaire for family members affected by addiction (SQFM-AA) which assesses stressful impact, symptoms of ill health, ways of coping, social support and overall burden. All received a 5-Step Method workbook, based on the SSCS model. The SQFM-AA was repeated three to six months later (n = 96). T-test analyses showed that baseline burden and related variables were comparable to those of family members affected by substance problems, were greater for wives and those living in the same household as the gambling relative, and were significantly reduced at follow-up. Regression modelling indicated the importance, for AFMs’ health, of reduced levels of engaged-emotional coping. Family members affected by gambling, some subgroups especially, experience high levels of burden. They can benefit from a model-based intervention, and coping change may be an important process.

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