Patterns of Family and Intimate Partner Violence in Problem Gamblers

  • Aino SuomiEmail author
  • Nicki A. Dowling
  • Shane Thomas
  • Max Abbott
  • Maria Bellringer
  • Malcolm Battersby
  • Jane Koziol-McLain
  • Tiffany Lavis
  • Alun C. Jackson
Original Paper


While the evidence about the statistical co-occurrence of family violence and problem gambling is growing, the mechanism by which the two behaviours are related is less clear. This study sought to clarify the dynamics of the problem behaviours, including the role of gender in victimisation and perpetration of violence in the family. Two-hundred-and-twelve treatment seeking problem gamblers (50.5% females) were recruited for interviews about past year FV and IPV experiences. The interviews included questions about the types of FV and IPV using the HITS tool (Sherin et al. in Fam Med Kans City 30:508–512, 1998). The questions addressed multiple family members, the temporal order of violence and gambling and the perceived associations between the two behaviours. The result show that well over half (60.8%; 95 CI = 54.1–67.2) of the participants reported some form of violence in the past 12 months, with no gender differences in relation to perpetration and victimisation. Bidirectional violence (43.9%; 95 CI = 37.4–50.6) was significantly more common than ‘perpetration only’ (11.3%; 95 CI = 7.7–16.3) or ‘victimisation only’ (5.7%; 95 CI = 3.3–9.6). Violence was mostly verbal, although considerable rates of physical violence also featured in the responses. ‘Participants’ own gambling preceded violence in a majority of the interviews but a small group of IPV victims reported that being a victim had led to their problematic gambling. These results can be used inform prevention, better treatment matching and capacity building in family violence and problem gambling services, where a significant focus should be on situational IPV.


Family violence Intimate partner violence Problem gambling Bi-directional violence Situational violence 



This research was funded by the Australian Research Council (Linkage Grant LP 0989331) with the Office for Problem Gambling, South Australia and Drummond Street Services, Victoria as industry partners; and the Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Centre at the University of Melbourne.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study is compliant with the Australian Ethical Standards and the study protocol was approved by the University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee (project 0838146) and the Victorian Department of Justice Human Research Ethics Committees (project 1119644) that are compliant with the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for conducting research on human participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aino Suomi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicki A. Dowling
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shane Thomas
    • 3
    • 4
  • Max Abbott
    • 5
  • Maria Bellringer
    • 6
  • Malcolm Battersby
    • 7
  • Jane Koziol-McLain
    • 8
  • Tiffany Lavis
    • 9
  • Alun C. Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Research on Ageing Health & WellbeingAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Shenzhen International Primary Health Care Research InstituteShenzhenPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Faculty of Health and Environmental SciencesAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  6. 6.Gambling and Addictions Research CentreAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  7. 7.Flinders Human Behaviour and Health Research UnitFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  8. 8.Auckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  9. 9.Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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