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Gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey: Experimental statistics stage

Gambling Commission report produced by NatCen on the experimental statistics stage of the gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey.


The Gambling Commission has been developing a series of survey questions aimed at measuring gambling-related harms. This includes measurement of harms experienced because of one’s own gambling (harms to self) and the harms experienced due to someone’s else gambling (harms from others). These questions were tested in the Participation and Prevalence: Pilot methodology review report.

The questions tested include measurement of 14 different types of harms and were split into two types.

Type 1 harms are those deemed to be so serious that experience of this even once would be detrimental to individuals, communities and society. This includes relationship breakdown, losing something of significant financial value; violence or abuse and crime.

Type 2 harms are those which if experienced frequently are likely to be harmful but where experience of this once or twice may not necessarily be harmful or may serve to indicate potential risk for future harms. This includes spending less on everyday items, increased use of credit or savings to gamble, experience of conflict within relationships, feeling isolated, and lying about the extent of gambling and poor work performance or work absences.

In the pilot, participants were directed to answer yes or no for type 1 harms. For type 2 harms, participants were asked to report if they had 'never' experienced this, if they had experienced this 'a little', or if they had experienced this 'a lot'.

Analysis of the pilot data showed issues with the type 2 (scaled) answer responses. Response patterns did not conform to expectations that endorsement would decline as severity increased, yet this pattern was not observed in the data. A subsequent expert review of the Commission’s procedures undertaken to date14 noted the unequal spacing between answer options: it is a small increment to move from 'never' to 'a little' but a much larger increment to move from 'a little' to 'a lot'. It was recommended that these answer options be changed to a more standard, and evenly spaced, response scale.

The pilot report also recommended that further experimental work be undertaken to better assess patterns of response for each type 2 harm using the revised answer options. In addition, the harms questions were updated and refined after expert review to take on board recommendations.


14 Developing survey questions capturing gambling-related harms, Heather Wardle, Viktorija Kesaite, Robert Williams, Rachel Volberg (2022).

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Testing different ways of asking about gambling harms
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