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Part B - Analysis of pilot data

About the pilot study

In January 2022, NatCen Social Research and the University of Glasgow conducted a random-probability push-to-web pilot study to assess the impact of changing survey methodologies upon gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence rates.

Participants were first invited to complete the survey via an online survey, with postal questionnaires sent to those who did not complete online. In total, 1,078 participants aged 16 years and over, took part in the pilot study.

The gambling harms questions were included in this pilot9. Those who had gambled in the past 12 months were asked to report their experience of a range of individual harms (harms to self). This covered 14 individual harms, ranging from experience of violence and abuse to cutting back on spending on everyday items. These questions covered three broad domains:

  • financial harms
  • relationship harms
  • health harms.

Similar questions were asked of everyone who reported that they knew somebody close to them who had gambled. They were asked to think about the impact that somebody else’s gambling had upon them (harms from others). All participants were asked whether they had attempted suicide in the last 12 months and, if so, whether this was gambling-related.

For all harms questions, hidden skip codes were used in the online survey so that if someone attempted to move past the questions without completing, they were then presented with a 'prefer not to say' answer code. In the paper questionnaire, people could just leave questions blank.

Analysis of data

These data were analysed to assess their performance and make recommendations for future development. Key results are summarised as follows.

Harms to self

Experience of severe harms defined as experience of violence and/or abuse; relationship breakdown; losing something of significant financial value; or gambling-related suicidality.

Response options for these questions were either yes or no.

Key results included:

  • as expected, endorsement of these items was very low – with 2 or 3 different participants endorsing each one. Around 4 percent of participants did not answer this question, indicating relatively high item non-response
  • rates of endorsement for the first question, losing something of significant financial value, were the same as losing a relationship or the experience of violence and/or abuse. If financial loss is a main driver of harm, we might have expected endorsement of this item to be higher than relationship loss or violence and/or abuse
  • one participant reported that a suicide attempt in the past 12 months was gambling related.

Experience of other harms defined as ranging from cutting back on spending on everyday items to greater conflicts and/or arguments.

These questions were measured on a three-point scale: not at all; a little; a lot.

Key results included:

  • for each harm, around 1 to 2 percent of past year gamblers (8 to 15 participants) reported that they had experienced each harm 'a little'
  • an additional 2 to 3 percent of past year gamblers (14 to 18 participants) reported that they had experienced each harm 'a lot'
  • around 3 to 4 percent of past year gamblers did not answer these questions – representing reasonably high item non-response
  • relatively similar numbers of men and women endorsed each harm
  • the gradient of responses across the answer options did not operate in the way expected. Normal response patterns for a scaled response option (where behaviours are relatively rare) would tend to show endorsement reducing as severity or frequency increases. This is not the case for these questions, where endorsement of 'a lot' is higher than 'a little' for each question8.

Number of participants reporting that they experienced each harm 'a little' or 'a lot'

Number of participants reporting that they experienced each harm "a little" or "a lot
Data definitions A little
(number of participants)
A lot
(number of participants)
Cutting back on spending on everyday items 13 18
Increased use of credit 11 15
Greater conflicts and/or arguments 9 14
Feeling isolated 8 15

Correlation coefficients examined the relationship between experience of any financial harm; any health harm and any relationship harm with problem gambling status, finding a strong correlation (greater than 0.7) regardless of whether problematic gambling status was defined by the Problem Gambling Severity Index or the DSM-IV.

Harms from others

The following table entitled 'Whether anyone close to the participant gambling?' shows how many pilot participants reported that a family member, friend or someone else close to them gambled. Endorsement rates were highest for a family member (219 participants). Overall, 308 participants reported that someone close to them gambled and were thus eligible to complete the ‘harms from others’ gambling questions.

Overall, 65 percent of pilot participants reported gambling in the past year, with around 40 percent of participants living with someone else who gambled. However, when answering a specific question on this, only 308 (28.5 percent) participants reported that they knew someone close to them who had gambled. This suggests there is some under-reporting in this measure, which is likely related to how it is worded (asking about gambling with no clarification of the types of activities to include).

Whether anyone close to the participant gambled?

Whether anyone close to the participant gambled?
Data definitions Yes
(percentage and number of participants)
No
(percentage and number of participants)
A family member 20.33% (219) 79.67% (858)
A friend 8.73% (94) 91.27% (983)
Someone else 2.23% (24) 97.77% (1053)

Experience of severe harms defined as experience of violence and/or abuse; relationship breakdown; losing something of significant financial value; or gambling-related suicidality.

Response options for these questions were either yes or no.

Key results included:

  • rates of endorsement for each item were low, ranging between 1 participant reporting losing something of value and 9 participants reporting relationship breakdown
  • item non-response ranged between 1.5 percent to 3.9 percent of those who were eligible to answer the questions.

Experience of other harms defined as ranging from cutting back on spending on everyday items to greater conflicts and/or arguments.

These questions were measured on a three-point scale: not at all; a little; a lot.

Key results included:

  • endorsement of experiencing each harm 'a little' varied from 2 percent (7 participants) for those increasing their use of credit to 7 percent (22 participants) for those stating that other people’s gambling caused increased conflict and/or arguments
  • an additional approximately 2 percent of those answering each harm question reported that they had experienced each harm 'a lot'
  • item non-response for these questions was low (1 participant)
  • for some harms, the gradient across the response options operated in a more conventional way – with endorsement decreasing as severity increased. For others, such as feeling socially isolated, broadly equal proportions endorsed that they experienced this 'a little' and 'a lot'
  • rates of endorsement between men and women were similar.

Notes

9 See Appendix A for the questions

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Developing gambling-related harms survey questions - Part A - Expert review of questions
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Developing gambling-related harms survey questions - Part C - Recommendations
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