Responsible gambling among older adults: a qualitative exploration


Responsible gambling (RG) is defined as gambling for pleasure and entertainment but with an awareness of the likelihood of losing, an understanding of the associated risks and the ability to exercise control over one’s gambling activity. The current study describes a qualitative approach to explore RG among older adults (aged 60 years and above) in Singapore and reports on the cognitive and behavioural strategies employed by them to regulate their gambling.

Inclusion criteria included Singapore residents aged 60 years and above, who could speak in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil and were current or past regular gamblers. Participants were recruited using a combination of network and purposive sampling. Socio-demographic information on age, age of onset of gambling, gender, ethnicity, marital status, education and employment was collected. The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) was used to collect information on gambling activities and problems associated with gambling behaviour. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 25 older adults (60 years and above) who currently gambled. The data was analyzed using thematic network analysis.

This global theme of RG comprised two organising themes: self –developed strategies to limit gambling related harm and family interventions to reduce gambling harm. The basic themes included delayed gratification, perception of futility of gambling, setting limits, maintaining balance, help-seeking and awareness of disordered gambling in self or in others. Family interventions included pleading and threatening, compelling help-seeking as well as family exclusion order.

The study highlights the significant role that families play in Asian societies in imposing RG. Education of family members both in terms of the importance of RG, and communication of the ways in which older adults can incorporate RG behaviours including the use of exclusion in specific scenarios is important.

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