A randomised controlled trial was conducted to examine the effectiveness of four psychological treatments for problem gambling:
- cognitive behaviour therapy
- motivational interviewing
- behaviour therapy
- client-centred therapy.
The study, one of the largest ever conducted examining treatments for problem gambling, also included a qualitative component examining the experiences of gamblers taking part in the study. The results in the report are based on 12 month follow up data.
Highlights of the report
There was a large and significant decrease in gambling symptom severity from baseline to 12 month follow up for all treatment groups.
There was a significant decrease in all three measures of gambling behaviour (frequency, time and expenditure) from baseline to twelve month follow up for all treatment groups. In the pre-treatment phase the participants gambled on average on 17.8 days in a four week period whereas immediately post treatment the average number of days gambled was 9.33 days and at 12 months it was 9.82. Average spend decreased from $4,320 at baseline to $1,891 at twelve month follow up.
The results of the study imply that each year, as a result of the treatments provided, an “average” participant in the study would gamble on 104 less days, spend 243 less hours gambling and they would save $31,577 per year in gambling losses.
Results did not differ significantly between the four treatment groups. This means that it is likely that all four manualised treatments are equally effective in responding to problem gambling.
The clinician who provided the treatment, and the presence of co-occurring conditions such as depression and anxiety, were not associated with significant differences in outcomes.
Thomas, S, Jackson, A, Browning, C, Feldman, S, Radermacher, H, Enticott, J, Merkouris, S 2017, Psychological treatments for problem gambling (PROGRESS) study final report, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne.