Cookies on the Gambling Commission website

The Gambling Commission website uses cookies to make the site work better for you. Some of these cookies are essential to how the site functions and others are optional. Optional cookies help us remember your settings, measure your use of the site and personalise how we communicate with you. Any data collected is anonymised and we do not set optional cookies unless you consent.

Set cookie preferences

You've accepted all cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

Skip to main content


Qualitative follow-up interviews with participants from the Gambling Survey Experimental Phase

We have refined new survey questions aimed at collecting better data on the experience of gambling-related harms in the upcoming Gambling Survey for Great Britain.

Background and methods

Background to the research

The Gambling Commission is developing a new survey approach to collecting gambling participation and gambling harms prevalence data in Great Britain. The latest stage of the study - the Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB) Experimental Statistics Phase3 – has involved refining and testing changes to the survey design.

In this phase, survey participants were asked questions to better understand their experiences of gambling and the effects of these experiences on their lives. This included new survey questions about participants’ exposure to gambling-related harms, comprising harms related to their own gambling and the gambling of others.4 Some survey participants were asked to respond to certain harms questions on a binary scale (response options: ‘yes’ or ‘no’), while others were asked to respond on a four-point scale (response options: ‘never’, ‘occasionally’, ‘fairly often’ and ‘very often’).

In this research, gambling-related harms (also referred to in this report as “harms”) are defined as the adverse impacts from gambling on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, and society. These harms impact people’s resources, relationships and health. Harms can be experienced not just by people who gamble but also those who are connected to them including family, friends and employers; as well as communities and society more broadly.5

Research aims

This qualitative research aimed to support interpretation of survey data captured on gambling-related harms, through follow-up interviews with participants from the Gambling Survey Experimental Statistics Phase. The research questions were:

  1. How did participants understand the response option ‘occasionally’ in the survey questions and apply this to their lived experience? In particular, what frequency of harm and types of impact6 did participants understand to be covered by the response ‘occasionally’, in comparison to other response options?
  2. How, if at all, did understanding and use of the response ‘occasionally’ differ for different harms identified in the survey questions?
  3. How do different gambling-related harms (including those identified within the experimental phase survey) interrelate? In particular, how are different harms experienced together (for example, concurrently; sequentially) and what are the connections between harms?

Sampling and recruitment

In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 people from the Gambling Survey Experimental Phase. Participants were selected based on their survey responses, including at least one experience of an ‘occasional’ harm – this was our “primary sampling criteria”. Demographic factors and types of gambling and/or harms experienced were also monitored to try and ensure that this research involved people with diverse experiences – this was our “secondary sampling criteria”.

Survey participants who met the sampling criteria (and had agreed to be re-contacted) were sent an email inviting them to take part in an interview. If participants expressed interest, a short screening call was arranged to provide further information about the research, answer any questions and find a suitable time for an interview.

Table 1: Sample of participants

Table 1: Sample of participants - attribute
Attribute Number of participants
Harm related to own gambling or gambling of others
Participant has experienced harm relating to their own gambling 5
Participant has experienced harms related to gambling of others 5
Participant has experienced harms relating both to own gambling and gambling of others 6
18 to 34 4
35 to 54 5
55 or over 7
Male 13
Female 3
Other or prefer not to say 0
White British or White Other 12
Black British or Black Other 0
Asian British or Asian Other 4
Mixed or multiple 0

Data collection

Interviews were conducted in June and July 2023, lasted up to 60 minutes, and took place over the phone or online (Microsoft Teams).

A topic guide was developed in collaboration with the Commission. A topic guide is a tool used for interviews which sets out key discussion topics. This ensures a consistent approach across interviews while allowing the discussion to remain participant led. The topic guide covered areas of interest for this research (for example, experience of harms identified as ‘occasional’ and relationships between different impacts of gambling).


This study was approved by NatCen’s Research Ethics Committee. The topics of gambling and gambling harm are potentially sensitive, so NatCen sought to reduce any risk of psychological harm for those taking part. All participants received an information sheet which set out the purpose of the research and explained what would happen to participant data. Participants were reminded of their right to withdraw before and during the interview. Participants were also signposted to a list of organisations that they could contact if the subject matter of the research prompted any upset or distress.

Analysis approach

With permission, all interviews were recorded and transcribed to support analysis. Data was analysed and managed using the framework approach. In this approach, relevant information from each interview is written up into a framework, where each row represents one interview, and each column represents a research question or sub-question. This enables the research team to assess the evidence relevant to each question. Analysis explored the full range of experiences and views, interrogating data to identify similarities and differences between participants (for example, those impacted by their own gambling compared to someone else’s gambling) and seek to explain patterns and themes.

This report does not provide numerical findings, since qualitative research cannot support numerical analysis. Instead, the qualitative findings provide in-depth insights into the range of views and experiences of participants and verbatim quotes are used to illustrate these.

Previous section
Qualitative GSGB Experimental Statistics Phase: Executive summary
Next section
Qualitative GSGB Experimental Statistics Phase: Overview of impacts of gambling on participants
Is this page useful?
Back to top