This research aimed to develop and evaluate a high quality online, self-directed program for gambling. The goal was to produce an online cognitive-behavioural program emulating the intensity and depth of a face-to-face cognitive-behavioural intervention from which more brief and targeted interventions could be developed.
The research was divided into three phases – a development stage (Phase 1), a pilot stage (Phase 2), and an evaluation stage (Phase 3):
This phase was the development of an empirically-based internet-delivered cognitive-behavioural self-directed program for gambling.
Phase two was to pilot a two-arm parallel group pragmatic randomised trial comparing the effectiveness of the program delivered with practitioner guidance with the program delivered without practitioner guidance.
This used mixed methods exploration of the acceptability and feasibility of the program by users and guides, and the degree to which the program could be effectively integrated into clinical practice in existing Victorian gambling services.
Results showed that there were no statistically significant differences between the guided and non-guided participants on almost all outcome measures – however the guided participants reported a significantly greater reduction in days gambled and a higher rate of low-intensity help-seeking.
At the 12-week evaluation there were medium differences between the two groups on some measures, and overall there were statistically significant improvements in gambling symptom severity (50% recovered, 14% improved), gambling urges, gambling frequency and psychological distress (32% recovered, 15% improved) at both evaluations.
Users displayed clinically significant changes in both gambling symptom severity and psychological functioning.
Dowling, N, Merkouris, S, Rodda, S, Smith, D, Lavis, T, Lubman, D, Austin, D, Harvey, P, Cunningham, J & Battersby, M 2018, Development and evaluation of an online gambling self-directed program: effective integration into existing services, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.