Validation of the Victorian Gambling Screen

Abstract

This report is a result of research commissioned by the Gambling Research Panel (GRP) to, firstly, identify current gambling patterns and perceptions and, secondly, evaluate the Victorian Gambling Screen. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The results of our validation tests for SOGS indicate that it is an unsatisfactory instrument to measure the prevalence of problem gambling in the general population. We recommend that the SOGS be replaced as the screen of choice in future Victorian and Australian population surveys. Overall, the VGS performed fairly well and seems to be an improvement over the SOGS — specifically in terms of one-dimensionality, internal consistency, item distributions and, to some degree, construct validity. At the same time, it should be noted that the content of the VGS and its implicit meaning of problem gambling do not seem to differ very much from the SOGS, contrary to claims of a departure from that theoretical model. Moreover, the CPGI demonstrated at least equally good qualities on all these dimensions, plus better classification validity. Overall the CPGI demonstrated the best measurement properties of all three gambling instruments investigated in this study. This raises the question of whether more effort and resources should be invested in further refinements of the VGS; and whether indeed the VGS or the CPGI should be utilised in future Australian prevalence surveys. The nine-item problem gambling score of the CPGI is shorter and thus more economical to administer than the VGS; the CPGI has also become the screen of choice in a growing number of jurisdictions. On balance, our analysis suggests that the CPGI could be adopted as a problem gambling screen for general use in Australian population surveys. Like the VGS, the CPGI is a relatively new screen and is currently being refined to accommodate the findings from several completed Canadian studies. If the CPGI is to be endorsed as a national gambling screen in Australia, it is essential to establish close collaboration with Canadian researchers to keep up-to-date with this process and to participate in further modifications to the screen. As well as the essential questions about screen validity, however, issues for future consideration are: The consequences for longitudinal studies and trend analysis if a different screen is adopted than has been used in past surveys; Selection of an instrument which is most likely to be used in all Australian states/territories and internationally, and thus to provide meaningful comparisons; and whether any of the existing instruments do in fact represent an appropriate understanding of problem gambling, or whether further development and refinement of their present content facets are required.

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