Can motivational messages engage individuals at-risk for gambling disorder in an online assessment?


There is a need to better understand how to motivate individuals experiencing addiction-related concerns, such as gambling problems, to engage in help-seeking behaviors. This experiment tested whether online messages based on principles of motivational interviewing (MI) could be used to encourage individuals to complete a problem gambling screener. Participants (N = 805) who gambled at least weekly and were not receiving treatment for gambling problems were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 message conditions that all offered participants the choice to complete either a problem gambling screener or an alternative questionnaire focused on gambling-related attitudes. The first condition was an MI-based interactive message, the second was similar in content but was presented in a noninteractive manner, and the third was a control message that did not include motivational elements. We found that the interactive motivational message yielded significantly higher rates of screener completion (39%) than the noninteractive message (28%) or control message (29%), χ² (2, N = 805) = 8.28, p = .016, Φ = .29. This remained significant after controlling for other study variables. Controlling for message condition, participants were more likely to complete the screener if they gambled more frequently, with more money, were more psychologically distressed and interested in receiving help for gambling problems, or had ever received treatment for gambling problems. These findings provide support for the use of interactive MI-based messages to encourage individuals at-risk for experiencing problems to use helping resources. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Title

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors