Treatment-seeking precipitators in problem gambling: Analysis of data from a gambling helpline

Abstract

Although research on treatment precipitators for problem gambling is scarce, telephone surveys have consistently shown that financial and emotional problems resulting from problem gambling are the factors which recovered or active gamblers most frequently report as treatment precipitators. The present study sought to build on previous evidence by analyzing the demographic and gambling-related information provided by gamblers calling the helpline operated by the New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling and receiving a referral to private counseling. Specifically we examined the differences between the callers who initiated treatment with a private counselor after receiving the referral (n = 223), and those who were likewise referred to counseling but did not attend the first appointment (n = 231). The 2 groups could only be distinguished by the fact that the therapy-initiating group cited family or financial problems as the reason for calling the helpline. Further analyses revealed that helpline staff also had an influence on counseling initiation. These findings, along with other differences between groups call for further research on the most effective ways of targeting problem gamblers who call a helpline so as to facilitate their progression to the action stage of change.

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