Research funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation has been cited in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ), read across the world by medical and allied health professionals.
The journal’s May edition includes a research paper focusing on the United Kingdom titled ‘Gambling and public health: we need policy action to prevent harm’ which cites three of the Foundation’s most significant pieces of research.
Underpinned by fieldwork initially funded by the Department of Justice, The Victorian gambling study: a longitudinal study of gambling and health in Victoria, 2008–2012 is cited alongside the 2016 collaborative study Assessing gambling-related harm in Victoria, often referred to as the Harm study. The third piece of research cited is 2017’s The social cost of gambling to Victoria, which puts a dollar figure on low, medium and severe harm.
‘Being mentioned in this paper is a validation of the public health approach taken in Victoria,’ says Foundation branch head of Research and Evaluation Rosa Billi. ‘Along with other countries, including New Zealand, Canada and some Scandinavian countries, Victoria is leading global efforts to better understand harm from gambling.’
The Harm study lays out gambling harm as experienced in seven areas: financial, work or study, health, emotional or psychological, relationships, cultural, and criminal activities. While previously only serious gamblers were considered to be affected and their harm medicalised, the 2016 study emphasises that people in lower-risk categories also experience harm, as can many of those close to them.
A public health approach to reducing gambling harm focuses on the community as a whole. It recognises that gambling-related harm requires a comprehensive, integrated and sustained approach built on an evidence-based public health framework.
‘Our research is building the tools we need for a public health approach to gambling harm,’ continues Rosa. ‘We’ve established that harm from gambling isn’t just about problem gambling but exists across a spectrum and its effects can persist across generations. This has given us a structure to address it in Victoria, and it’s great to see that other jurisdictions are paying attention.’
The key findings in the research paper are:
- current approaches targeting affected individuals substantially underestimate the harms of gambling
- gambling places a major burden of harm on individuals, communities, and society
- harms from gambling are generated through a range of political, legislative, commercial and interpersonal actions
- public health approaches to reduce harms related to gambling should encompass a range of population-based approaches supported by regulation, legislation and funding.
‘The BMJ research paper involved a major consultation across the international community of practice,’ continues Rosa. ‘For the Foundation to be internationally recognised shows that our work is having an impact on the way others are addressing the issue of gambling harm.’