A Mixed Methods Analysis of Gambling Harm for Women in New Zealand

Palmer Du Preez, K
Mauchline, L
Paavonen, A
Thurlow, R
Garrett, N
Bellringer, M
Landon, J
Abbott, M
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Commissioned Report
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Gambling and Addictions Research Centre (GARC), Auckland University of Technology (AUT) for the Ministry of Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports multiple layers of gender analysis in health research and policy, accounting for personal and community-level impacts of gender, and investigation of the interactions between sex and gender and their dual impact on health. Gender informed analyses have rarely been conducted in gambling studies, where insufficient attention has been given to gender as an analytical category and/or theoretical construct. Gambling studies have looked at the impacts of gambling on women, however little research has explored gambling harm in New Zealand as a gendered, multifaceted phenomenon involving the interplay of environmental, social and individual level factors. Mixed methods studies are useful for studying dynamic and complex inter-relationships, and understanding multi-layered issues, yet are used relatively rarely in gambling research. Accordingly, gaps in our current understanding of how women are affected by gambling, as both gamblers and as affected others, are likely to constrain harm prevention reduction efforts. Two overarching research questions were posed: How do gender related issues, notions and practices influence women’s gambling related harm in New Zealand What are the implications for women’s gambling harm reduction?

A mixed methods approach was selected to enable a multifaceted exploration of the context, issues and factors influencing women’s gambling related harm in New Zealand, and suggest pathways for harm reduction. Three different methods of data analysis were employed across four datasets, to produce a polyvalent understanding. The three methods were: discourse analysis, thematic analysis and factor analysis with multivariate modelling. The research design comprised four components: poststructural analysis of literature positioning women in relation to gambling practices and harm, analysis of women’s experiences of gambling harm in New Zealand, gender analysis of population data related to gambling behaviour and gambling problems in New Zealand and finally, synthesis of findings in relation to harm prevention and reduction.

This research demonstrated that women’s gambling and harm in New Zealand are multifaceted phenomena. Gambling studies have shaped and arguably constrained responses to preventing and minimising women’s gambling harm: tending to focus attention narrowly on individual women’s psychological wellbeing. Gender issues and ideology infuse gambling practices and experiences of harm. Women’s socio-cultural positioning as primary caregivers for families contributes to gambling harm by placing unrealistic expectations on women, while simultaneously constraining their ability to prioritise their own wellbeing, and access rest, relaxation and support. Gambling venues in local communities appear to offer women respite, distraction, comfort, time-out and/or connection – while placing them at heightened risk of experiencing problems and harm. Promising avenues for addressing gambling harm for women in New Zealand include reducing EGM gambling opportunities in community settings, promoting gender equality and women’s community connectedness in gambling harm prevention and reduction activities, and explicit and ongoing commitment to gender-aware gambling harm reduction research, policy and practice.

Palmer du Preez, K., Mauchline, L., Paavonen, A., Thurlow, R., Garrett, N., Bellringer, M.E., Landon, J., & Abbott, M. (2019). A mixed methods analysis of gambling harm for women in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University of Technology, Gambling and Addictions Research Centre.
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