The impacts of problem gambling on concerned significant others accessing web-based counselling

Abstract

The 'concerned significant others' (CSOs) of people with problem gambling frequently seek professional support. However, there is surprisingly little research investigating the characteristics or help-seeking behaviour of these CSOs, particularly for web-based counselling. The aims of this study were to describe the characteristics of CSOs accessing the web-based counselling service (real time chat) offered by the Australian national gambling web-based counselling site, explore the most commonly reported CSO impacts using a new brief scale (the Problem Gambling Significant Other Impact Scale: PG-SOIS), and identify the factors associated with different types of CSO impact. The sample comprised all 366 CSOs accessing the service over a 21 month period. The findings revealed that the CSOs were most often the intimate partners of problem gamblers and that they were most often females aged under 30 years. All CSOs displayed a similar profile of impact, with emotional distress (97.5%) and impacts on the relationship (95.9%) reported to be the most commonly endorsed impacts, followed by impacts on social life (92.1%) and finances (91.3%). Impacts on employment (83.6%) and physical health (77.3%) were the least commonly endorsed. There were few significant differences in impacts between family members (children, partners, parents, and siblings), but friends consistently reported the lowest impact scores. Only prior counselling experience and Asian cultural background were consistently associated with higher CSO impacts. The findings can serve to inform the development of web-based interventions specifically designed for the CSOs of problem gamblers.

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