Gambling in Ireland: profile of cases from an analysis of a national treatment reporting system.

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 10:50 to 12:20


Globally, problem gambling prevalence is estimated at between 0.1% and 5.8%. Problem gambling can have many negative consequences; including on physical and psychological health, social functioning and may also impact those around them. There is a need to better understand treatment uptake as only a small proportion seek treatment. This is the first analysis using routinely gathered health surveillance data to describe treated problem gambling in Ireland. Results will inform service policy and planning.

Secondary analysis of treatment episodes for problem gambling collected by the National Drug Treatment Reporting System was undertaken. Included were treatment episodes that commenced between 2008 and 2019 (n=2,999). Variables of interest included service types accessed, demographics, socioeconomic information, referral and assessment details, current problems (up to five) and treatment history. Episodes who reported gambling as their sole problem (GO) were compared with those who reported gambling in combination with other problems (GA).

The majority (93.8%) were male. One fifth (20.9%) lived with dependent children, 7.4% were homeless. There were high levels of employment (35.4%) and formal education qualifications; half (53.8%) had completed second or third level education. Problem gambling frequently co-occurred with substance addictions (47.3%) including alcohol (85.6%), cannabis (32.3%), cocaine (28.0%) and benzodiazepines (10.9%). The majority were treated at inpatient settings (56.1%) with many self-referrals (46.3%). Statistically significant differences (p<0.01) were found between GO and GA episodes for service type where treated, source of referral, employment, education attainment, homelessness and living with dependent children.

This analysis provides insights into treated problem gambling nationally. Monitoring and surveillance can play a crucial role in measuring the successful efforts and help inform planning and treatment. The findings may have implications for treatment pathways.




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