A tale of two countries: comparing disability weights for gambling problems in New Zealand and Australia



This study aimed to assess the impact of gambling problems on quality of life. Specifically, we generated disability weight estimates for gambling problems in New Zealand, and compared these results with (i) Australian figures (J Gambl Issues, 10.4309/jgi.v0i36.3978, 2017) and (ii) other health states (Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61680-8, 2013); such as anxiety and alcohol use disorders.


The 324 participants (48 experts and 276 general population members) evaluated a series of gambling harm vignettes. The participants rated the decrement to one’s quality of life using Visual Analogue Scale and Time Trade-Off protocols (Br Med Bull, 10.1093/bmb/ldq033, 2010). These evaluations enabled the calculation of disability weights for three categories of gamblers (low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers).


Disability weight estimates for low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers in NZ were consistently higher than the Australian weights: low (0.18 vs. 0.13), moderate (0.37 vs. 0.29), and problem (0.54 vs. 0.44). The quality of life impact for problem gambling in NZ (0.54) was comparable to that experienced in severe alcohol use disorder (0.55) (Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61680-8, 2013).


This study represents one of the first attempts to assess gambling-related harm through a public health perspective. The results of this study are informative for policy-making, resource allocation, and service planning. These estimates now allow for the population-level impact of gambling in NZ to be calculated and tracked over time, which is essential for informing harm-minimisation initiatives.

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This research was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Health (Grant #351507/00).

Author information




MBrowne has received grants from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Gambling Research Australia. MR has received research grants from the Queensland Treasury, the Victorian Treasury, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and Gambling Research Australia. EL has received research funds from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Gambling Research Australia, Department of Human Services, New Zealand Ministry of Health, Menzies School of Health; received an Honorarium from Gambling Research Exchange Ontario; and had travel expenses paid by Gamble Aware and the Gambling Research Exchange Ontario. MBellringer and MA have received research grants from the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vijay Rawat.

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All authours declare they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Central Queensland University Human Research Ethics Committee (H15/07-173), the New Zealand Health and Disability Ethics Committee (14/NTA/171), and the Auckland University of Technology Ethics Committee (15/217) granted ethical clearance for data collection.

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Participants provided informed consent to take part in the current study.

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Rawat, V., Browne, M., Bellringer, M. et al. A tale of two countries: comparing disability weights for gambling problems in New Zealand and Australia. Qual Life Res 27, 2361–2371 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-018-1882-8

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  • Gambling
  • Disability weights
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Visual analogue scale
  • Time trade-off