If gambling treatment was evidence based, what would it look like?


Dr Mark Griffiths

Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction

Director, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University

Dr Mark Griffiths is a psychologist and Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University (UK). He has published over 155 refereed research papers, two books, over 30 book chapters and over 350 other articles mainly on gambling and gaming. He is also interested in other behavioural addictions including videogames, the Internet, and exercise.

Research and clinical interventions for problem gambling are best served by a biopsychosocial approach that incorporates the best strands of contemporary psychology, biology and sociology. This paper very briefly overviews pharmacological treatments, psychotherapies, self-help treatments, behavioural treatments, cognitive-behavioural treatments and other more idiosyncratic treatments (e.g., hypnotherapy, logotherapy, residential therapy, audio playback therapy etc.). The paper also identifies knowledge gaps and argues that much of the research has been based on self-selected samples of treatment-seekers or those recruited via adverts. The paper concludes that little is known about the relative effectiveness of different approaches because most studies have methodological shortcomings, and that lack of sound theoretical understanding of causes of problem gambling hinders the ability to design effective interventions. A review of the limited research that exists on problem gambling treatment suggests inadequate knowledge to answer questions about problem gambling service effectiveness.