Universal, indicated, and selective prevention for youth gambling


This chapter discusses prevention of gambling in youth. Despite all the methodological and ideological debates surrounding the epidemiological studies and prevalence rates of gambling among youth, it is important to remember that abusive/excessive/pathological gambling can lead to serious consequences that could impinge the cognitive, personal, social, and academic development of youth. Although not all young people who participate in gambling activities will develop gambling problems during their adolescence or adulthood, the fact remains that exposure to gambling activities is the first step towards acquiring such a habit. It is to reduce the likelihood that youth develops gambling problems so that prevention programs were developed and implemented over the years. One way to classify preventive interventions is to divide them in terms of universal, selective, and indicated prevention based on the populations targeted by the interventions. The universal prevention strategies are designed to reach the entire population, without regard to individual risk factors, and aims at preventing or delaying the beginning or abuse of gambling; selective prevention strategies target subsets of the total population that are deemed to be at risk for gambling problems by virtue of their membership in a particular population segment. Indicated prevention interventions identify individuals who are experiencing early signs of gambling abuse and other risk factors associated with pathological gambling and target them with special programs. An approach, like the harm reduction approach is also part of the preventive approaches introduced in recent years and it is predominantly found in the indicated preventive intervention category. The next sections focus on each of the three categories of preventive interventions and, when possible, provide examples of interventions that have been proved effective. It is, however, important to note that although all preventive interventions should be evaluated before being implemented on a large scale, yet few interventions targeting the prevention of gambling were assessed and published in the scientific literature so far. This document is not an exhaustive presentation of every preventive intervention actually available. It is rather meant to describe the types of preventive interventions available to youth under 18 years old. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

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