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Statistics and research release

Qualitative research to inform the collection of data on gambling-related harms

The Gambling Commission has been piloting new survey questions on gambling-related harms which will be included in the Gambling Survey for Great Britain.


We have been refining our new survey questions aimed at collecting better data on the experience of gambling-related harms in the upcoming Gambling Survey for Great Britain. This release provides a further update on how qualitative research has been used to inform our analysis of the new questions.


Imogen Martin, Adriana D’Arcy, Phoebe Weston-Stanley, Florence Tregan, Robyn Bennetto, Emily Sawdon, Dr Sokratis Dinos (NatCen).


The Gambling Commission has been piloting new survey questions on gambling-related harms which will be included in the Gambling Survey for Great Britain. The questions have been developed iteratively and have been incorporated into the wider pilot and experimental phases of the new survey. Last year we shared an update on our progress on developing survey questions to collect better data on gambling-related harms. Earlier this year we shared recommendations from the experimental phase of the Gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey. This tested whether binary or four-point answer scales were more effective in capturing experiences of gambling harms.

We have followed the recommendation from the experimental phase that the four-point answer scale should be used when asking about experiences of harm, except for harms that are more severe – such as bankruptcy and relationship breakdown - where a binary (yes or no) response option is preferred. The scale options used in the harms questions are ‘very often’, ‘fairly often’, ‘occasionally’ and ‘never.

Since then, we have continued to refine our approach, with a particular focus on how we analyse the new data that these survey questions provide. We commissioned additional qualitative interviews with participants who had indicated that they had experienced harms ‘occasionally’, so that we could understand more about these responses and determine whether these data points should be included in our analyses. The interviews also explored the connections between different harms amongst participants who had experienced multiple harms. We have also conducted extensive analyses on the step 3 experimental data to explore different options and test validity. We commissioned NatCen to conduct additional qualitative interviews with participants.

The findings from the qualitative research, and our own analysis of the experimental data, has indicated that ‘occasional’ responses should be included in our analyses of the gambling harms questions. However, the experiences of participants were quite varied, so it will be important to be clear that ‘occasional’ responses capture a range of impacts, with some being very minimal and other being more severe.

We are not aiming to develop a headline score or scale of gambling-related harms or measure the cost of gambling harms to society. However, we plan to gather meaningful insight into the range and variability of negative experiences that people can experience as a result of their own or someone else’s gambling. We will begin publishing data on the impacts of gambling, including experiences of gambling related harm, from summer 2024.

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

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