Helplines for Problem Gambling Worldwide: What Do They Do and Whom Do They Reach?
Problem gambling (PG), defined as gambling with risked or actual negative consequences, has increased during recent decades, generating serious harm for individuals, their concerned significant others (CSO’s), and society. One way to reduce PG among individuals and in society is to offer qualified support via remote helplines. In order to update limited current information about gambling helpline services worldwide, a global survey was conducted, targeting helplines for PG to map services directly offered by each helpline, communication channels utilized, and client groups served. All known helplines (n=82) were approached, with a response rate of 37% (n=30). Most helplines offered their clients information, advice, and referral to treatment providers. The type of help directly offered for individuals with PG mostly included motivational interviewing (MI) and advice, while CSO’s were offered supportive counseling and advice. All helplines offered telephone sessions as their main communication channel and commonly also included chat-and email-based support. Men were in the majority among callers concerning PG while most CSO callers were women; other client characteristics were similar on all continents. Suggested directions for future research include improving and harmonizing helpline data reporting to facilitate collecting data from a larger proportion of helplines, exploring how helplines might increase the evidence base for services offered, particularly to CSO’s, and increasing helpline outreach.