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Pilot survey results assessment.

The evaluation of the methodology change focused primarily on gambling participation, prevalence of problem gambling and at-risk Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) scores.

The initial stage to evaluating the pilot survey approach was to test the suitability of the push-to-web methodology for collecting gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling data in the future as well as to, assess how the results compared to the estimates generated from the self-completion element of the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2018 and trend-adjusted HSE figures.

The pilot survey produced higher prevalence estimates - both for gambling activities in the previous 12 months and for low or moderate risk or problem gambling - in comparison with both HSE 2018 and the trend-adjusted HSE figures. For example, 54 percent of HSE 2018 participants reported having gambled in the previous 12 months compared with 63 percent of those from the pilot survey.

Within the pilot survey, 1.3 percent of participants had a PGSI score of 8+ (problem gambling) compared with 0.4 percent in HSE 2018. The respective figures for moderate risk gambling was 2.3 percent and 0.8 percent and for low risk gambling 7.8 percent and 2.7 percent. The results from the pilot survey should not be used as new estimates of gambling participation or the prevalence of problem gambling.

There was little difference between the surveys in relation to the prevalence estimates produced for older people. However, the pilot survey produced higher estimates for younger people, particularly women, notably in relation to online gambling rates and at risk and problem gambling prevalence.

The higher prevalence estimates produced by the pilot survey were not unexpected. The recent review by Sturgis and Kuha (opens in a new tab) concluded that online surveys tend to over-estimate gambling participation and it is also possible that health surveys may under-estimate prevalence.

Our analysis highlighted two potential causes of differences:

  1. It is possible that response rates were higher among gamblers than non-gamblers, which in turn may lead to somewhat higher estimates of problematic gambling.
  2. It appears that there were differences between the two surveys in the way that survey participants completed the PGSI, with the differences greatest for women.

Comparing participants from the two surveys with similar gambling activity profiles, pilot survey participants were more likely to score one or more on the PGSI than their counterparts in HSE 2018. This needs further investigation but may be because people provide more honest answers when reporting behaviours online than when filling in self-completion questionnaires when an interviewer or other family members are present.

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