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Social support helps build resilience to gambling triggered by stress

New research indicates people with gambling problems are more likely than recreational gamblers to increase their gambling activity in response to challenging life situations such as financial concerns, physical illness, relationship or family stress, work problems and mental health issues.

Funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the Southern Cross University study (PDF - 852.8 KB) involved in-depth interviews with 20 recreational gamblers and 20 people with gambling problems to explore the relationship between health, well being and resilience to problem gambling.

The researchers found recreational gamblers were more likely to have good social support networks, which helped them cope better with stressful life events that may otherwise trigger an increase in gambling.

Foundation chief executive officer Serge Sardo says the study highlights the importance of building personal and community resilience around gambling.

"We are particularly concerned about people with gambling problems and those who may be at risk of developing problems who may not have enough positive social influences in their lives placing them at greater risk of increasing their gambling when crisis arises," said Mr Sardo.

"We also want to help prevent people from crossing the line from recreational gambling into problem gambling by informing people of the risks through education and awareness initiatives," said Mr Sardo.

'The relationship between gambling, significant life events, co-morbidity and associated social factors' was completed by early career researchers Dr Louise Holdsworth and Dr Elaine Nuske under the guidance of Professor Nerilee Hing at the Centre for Gambling Education and Research, Southern Cross University.

Recreational gamblers in the study reported stronger positive influences in their lives that enabled them to cope effectively with significant life events whereas participants with gambling problems more often raised negative social influences and other issues in their lives.

No difference was found in the responses of the men and women in the study.

The study reinforces the Foundation's commitment to taking a public health approach to addressing problem gambling.

"We aim to develop a sense of cohesion and collaboration in the community to address problem gambling so we can provide better services and support for people in need," said Mr Sardo.

The Early Career Researcher grant was awarded in Round Four of the Foundation's Grants for Gambling Research Program.

The Foundation encourages further research into the impact of significant life events and related factors on gambling participation, and is committed to building capacity in the field of gambling research in Australia by supporting early career researchers.

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Fiona Skivington, Manager, Media & Communication
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