23 Oct 2023

The study, led by researchers from King’s College London (KCL), and funded by the NIHR, worked with people with lived experience of gambling harms, GamCare, and three local authorities (LAs), to develop the questions before testing them in practice.

The following two questions are recommended for use in adult social care after scientific testing:

  • Is your own gambling or that of someone else causing you any worries?
  • Do you feel you are affected by any gambling, either your own or someone else's?

These questions were designed to identify both problem gamblers and ‘affected others’, such as family and friends.

Our study tested these questions in three LAs and looked how acceptable these questions were to both the staff asking them and the people answering. Either question can be used, depending on the client group or staff preference.

Emerging findings point to the question being more acceptable in debt and wellbeing, adult safeguarding, and learning disability teams; staff were more willing to ask these questions as they felt more relevant to them. In contrast, in the single point of access (SPA) teams, there was a greater reluctance to ask about gambling as staff noted they already had high caseloads and did not perceive gambling harms to be a priority.

Our study identified people who were harmed by their own gambling and harmed by other people's gambling. Those affected by other people's gambling have not been the focus of harm prevention activities, and identifying those people in need of further support is a vital step forward.

Gambling harms are hidden and stigmatised – it is really important to use the right language when attempting to start a conversation about gambling harms.  It should be noted, there are some considerable barriers that need to be overcome – first and foremost the promotion of the importance of gambling as public health issue, through independent public awareness campaigns needs to be undertaken, so that people get more used to having these conversations in these settings.  The research team will be contributing to a new NICE guidance consultation on asking about gambling in healthcare.

Gambling harms cause suffering to many people in the UK, findings from this study will be of use for local authorities seeking to identify and support service users

Caroline Norrie

Dr Caroline Norrie, senior research fellow, King's College London,

The research team would like to thank the people with lived experience of gambling harms who supported this study, organised by Betknowmore UK.

Find out more

Find out about free LA staff training. For more information contact caroline.norrie@kcl.ac.uk

Join a free webinar on 31 October where Professor Heather Wardle will discuss the study in more detail.