This research examined the effectiveness of anti-stigma initiatives in the areas of mental health, HIV/AIDS and gambling to understand the different appeal strategies used and to inform future anti-stigma initiatives for problem gambling.
The study comprised a literature review of a range of campaigns used to reduce stigma and interviews with experts about the factors that contribute to gambling stigma and potential strategies for responding to them.
In reviewing the campaigns, the researchers found most strategies used to reduce stigma tended to be reactive rather than preventative. The gambling campaigns typically focused on personal responsibility. The researchers noted that this may have unintended negative consequences for people experiencing gambling harm, including intensifying stigma and deterring help-seeking.
The interviews with experts focused on the causes and consequences of gambling stigma and how to address them through effective anti-stigma initiatives. Interviewees saw stigma exacerbated by community misconceptions about individual responsibility as well as industry and government messages that frame problem gambling as an issue of personal responsibility. They recommended drawing on campaign successes in other areas, such as mental health, and shifting focus from personal responsibility to the multiple factors that contribute to gambling harm, encouraging a more compassionate approach to those who experience it.
The foundation’s Grants for Gambling Research program funded this study.
Thomas, S., Bestman, A., Pitt, H., David, J., & Thomas, S 2016, Lessons for the development of initiatives to tackle the stigma associated with problem gambling, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.