Developing a web-based intervention for the reduction of problem gambling in Switzerland: win back control
Background: Switzerland has a wide array of gambling opportunities. The country has 21 casinos and about 9000 lottery-vending points, which generate around 1.5 billion Swiss francs annually. This makes Switzerland one of the densest countries in the world in terms of gambling opportunities. Recent data reports a past-year gambling rate of 46.6%, and a problem gambling prevalence rate of 1.1% in Switzerland. Evidence, however, suggests that less than 10% of pathological gamblers are in treatment at any one time with most seeking treatment only in response to a significant life crisis. The inclusion of gambling disorder in the DSM-5 proves the necessity for further treatment options. There are different websites and institutes in Switzerland who offer information and counselling options for problem gamblers. However, an actual self-help platform where users could tackle their problematic behaviour on their own is currently not available. Offering a web-based self-help tool could potentially reach users who otherwise would not seek traditional help. The aim of this study is to develop a web-based self-help tool to help user to reduce their gambling activities.
Methods: The intervention will include the following elements: A screening questionnaire that offers personalized feedback and checks if the person is suited for the program or needs further assistance; a gambling diary in which the user can monitor the amount of playing time and money spent; key modules designed to reduce gambling activity based on the approach of cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing; optional modules to deal with commonly associated comorbid mental problems (e. g. depressive symptoms, anxiety, substance use, sleep problems); exercises to transfer the learned knowledge to daily life; emails to send personal-tailored messages (based on their inputs) and reminders for the program to the user. The two-armed randomized controlled trial will test the effectiveness compared to a control condition with a self-help manual in reducing gambling activity in problem gamblers. The study will be conducted in German and French speaking Switzerland.
Results: Not available yet. Results expected Summer of 2020.
Conclusions: If effective, the program can also be translated to Italian and so implemented in almost all parts of Switzerland.