The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare granted us 3 830 000 SEK for a project entitled ”Evaluation of an internet-based CBT-program with telephone support for concerned significant others of problem gamblers – a randomized controlled trial.”
In Sweden it has been estimated that 260 000 individuals cohabitate with a problem gambler (PG), and among them 76 000 are children. Problem gambling can have devastating effects on the lives of the concerned significant others (CSOs) of PGs. Currently, there exists no empirically supported assistance available to CSOs of PGs in Sweden. Moreover, only a few cities have established support groups for this population. Numerous researchers have suggested that CSOs can play a key role in getting the gambler to enter treatment, and they’ve highlighted the need to better equip CSOs to handle their PGs.
This project will develop a program based on techniques from a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-program called community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT). CRAFT is a promising approach that has managed to get around 66 % of substance abusers to enter treatment. Consequently, the main research aims of this study are to develop and evaluate whether an internet-delivered CBT-program with telephone support can: 1) get the PGs to enter treatment, 2) enhance the CSOs’ quality of life and 3) decrease the amount of time and money spent on gambling. The study will be a randomized controlled trial with two arms: 1) the CBT-program and 2) a wait-list control.
The implications of potentially getting treatment refusing PGs to seek treatment earlier cannot be overstated. Considering that only about 10 % of the PGs seek professional help, the present study could have significant implications for harm reduction and public health related to gambling. Additionally, the present study will improve our knowledge of how to get problem gamblers to enter treatment earlier, how to reduce their gambling behavior, and consequently improve the quality of life for the PGs and the CSOs. To ensure ease of dissemination, and study replication, the manual developed in the project will be licensed under a creative commons license and distributed for free.
Key people involved will be Kristoffer Magnusson (the brain behind the application). In addition, professor Gerhard Andersson, Dr. Clara Gumpert and PhD-student Anders Nilsson will also have important roles in the project.