Online support needs and experiences of family members affected by problem gambling

Online support needs and experiences of family members affected by problem gambling

Authored by Simone Rodda, Dan Lubman and Nicki Dowling

Research Report— April 2017
Mother and child looking at a laptop

Key messages

89% of service users were female, under 35 years old and most often the partner of the problem gambler. Over half of family members had found out about the gambling problem in the past 12 months.

Almost 80% reported they often experienced feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress or anger due to another person’s gambling. Two-thirds said gambling often affected the quality of their relationship with the person with the problem.

93% of family members had accessed some kind of intervention prior to using Gambling Help Online (e.g., chat, email, forums, telephone and face-to-face counselling). 

On average, two different services were accessed at Gambling Help Online, and over half of family members said the services were sufficient to meet their needs. The majority of family members reported their experience of e-therapy as positive.

The main reasons people sought help was to educate themselves about gambling behaviors and how to support and encourage problem gamblers to seek help.

Problem gambling harms not only those with gambling issues, but also their family and friends. Short-term online services have been developed in Australia to support family and friends impacted by a problem gambler. This study explores the experiences of family members who used services from Gambling Help Online to deal with their family member’s problem gambling. The study describes the characteristics of those seeking help, the effect of gambling on them, the services they used and their reasons for seeking help. 

Authors and Acknowledgements

Dr Simone Rodda is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and an Honorary Fellow at Turning Point and Deakin University, both in Victoria. Professor Dan Lubman also works at Turning Point and Monash University. Associate Professor Nicki Dowling is at Deakin University, Victoria, and is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

This work was undertaken in partnership with the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. We would like to thank staff at the AGRC, especially Dr Anna Thomas and Dr Sophie Vasiliadis. This work involved the development of new Gambling Help Online processes in a relatively short time frame. Thanks to Dr Jane Oakes, Dr Kitty Vivekananda, and Mr Rick Loos for assisting with the practical aspects of project design and implementation. In particular, Orson Rapose provided advice and then led the technical implementation. Tom Cartmill and Mollie Flood provided research assistance to the project and were key in providing day-to-day project support. Finally, thank you to all of the family members and friends impacted by gambling problems who participated in this study. 

Publication details

Research Report
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2017.
Suggested citation:

Rodda, S. N., Lubman, D. I., & Dowling, N. A. (2017). Online support needs and experiences of family members affected by problem gambling. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.


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