Professional Help-Seeking for Gambling Problems: Awareness, Barriers and Motivators for Treatment

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Abstract

Despite the negative consequences associated with gambling, few problem gamblers seek professional help. This study aimed to examine awareness of professional sources of help and help-seeking behaviour amongst regular and problem gamblers. Australian gamblers (N = 730) were recruited from the general population, multicultural gambling venues, and gambling helplines and treatment services. Surveys measured awareness of professional help services, help-seeking behaviour and motivators and barriers to seeking help. Gamblers demonstrated low awareness of professional help services. Problem gamblers born in Australia or who were divorced were more likely to seek help. Problem gamblers who were reluctant to seek help due to a desire solve the problem on their own and feeling ashamed for themselves or their family pride were more likely to have overcome these barriers to seek help. However, significant barriers related to denial of problem severity and concerns about the ability to access low cost services that cater for multicultural populations predicted a lower likelihood of having sought help. Public education should aim to de-mystify the treatment process and educate gamblers about symptoms of problem gambling to reduce shame, stigma, and denial and encourage help-seeking. Ongoing education and promotion of help services is required to increase awareness of the resources available, including targeted promotions to increase awareness of relevant services among specific populations.