Who goes to treatment? Predictors of treatment initiation among gambling help-line callers

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Although the consequences of problem gambling can be severe, few ever seek treatment for this disorder. Problem gambling help-lines represent a crucial point of entry into the treatment system. Through brief telephone counseling, help-lines have the potential of enhancing callers' motivations to engage in longer-term treatment. We prospectively examined treatment initiation and its predictors among individuals calling a state help-line. Methods: Participants (n = 143) were assessed shortly after their initial call and re-contacted at least two months later. Results: Overall 67% of the re-contacted help-line callers had attended at least one treatment session at the time of the follow-up interview (92.7% formal treatment and 28.1% peer-support meetings). Multivariate analysis revealed that gambling-related financial difficulties and past treatment for problem gambling (but not for mental health or substance abuse) predicted treatment initiation. Conclusions and Significance: Enhanced counseling focusing on motivational factors may result in better treatment engagement for some problem gamblers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

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