Frequent Gamblers’ Reasons for and Against Completing a Problem Gambling Screener


Problem gambling screeners are easily accessible and potentially reduce harm for those individuals who engage in risky levels of gambling behavior. However, a recent study found that when frequent gamblers were offered the chance to complete a screener and receive feedback, most chose not to do so. In this paper, secondary analysis was completed on frequent gamblers’ open-ended responses to questions regarding reasons for and against completing a problem gambling screener. Participants (N = 262) were individuals who gambled at least once per week and were not currently being treated for gambling problems. A qualitative open-coding procedure independently completed by multiple researchers revealed that the most common reasons for completing the screener were individuals having a desire to check in on their behavior, because they were curious about the screener, because they were experiencing gambling-related harm, or that they were already considering making changes to their gambling. The most common reasons against completing the screener were that they were either avoidant of the experience because they thought it might cause psychological distress, or because they believed that they did not have a problem. This study provides insight into why many individuals who engage in risky levels of gambling behavior do not seek out helping resources. In addition to creating practically accessible helping resources, researchers should focus on techniques that can make help-seeking a less distressing and more acceptable experience.

Publication Title

Journal of Gambling Studies