Should We Offer Screening Tools & Interventions for Gambling to Military Personnel?

Research Paper Title

Gambling and the Role of Resilience in an International Online Sample of Current and Ex-serving Military Personnel as Compared to the General Population.

Background

Compared to the general population, military personnel are particularly vulnerable to developing gambling problems.

The present study examined the presentation of gambling-including gambling frequency, personal thoughts on reducing gambling and recommendations from others to reduce gambling-across these populations.

Additionally, the study measured the association between gambling and various psychosocial risk and protective factors-including psychological distress, suicidal ideation, external encouragement to reduce substance use, days out of role, personal wellbeing, resilience, social support and intimate bonds.

Methods

Data was extracted from the Global Health & Wellbeing Survey, an online self-report survey conducted in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Results

Of the 10,765 eligible respondents, 394 were military veterans and 337 were active military personnel. Consistent with previous research, a higher proportion of gambling behaviours were observed in both current and ex-serving military samples, compared to the general population.

To varying degrees, significant associations were found between the different gambling items and all psychosocial risk and protective factors in the general population sample.

However, the military sample yielded only one significant association between gambling frequency and the protective factor ‘resilience’.

A post hoc stepwise linear regression analysis demonstrated the possible mediating role resilience plays between gambling frequency and other psychosocial risk (psychological distress, and suicidal thoughts and behaviour) and protective factors (personal wellbeing) for the military sample.

Conclusions

Given the findings, it is recommended that routine screening tools identifying problem gambling are used within the military, and subsequent resilience focused interventions are offered to at risk personnel.

Reference

Milton, A.C., La Monica, H., Dowling, M., Yee, H., Davenport, T., Braunstein, K., Flego, A., Burns, J.M. & Hickie, I.B. (2020) Gambling and the Role of Resilience in an International Online Sample of Current and Ex-serving Military Personnel as Compared to the General Population. Journal of Gambling Studies. 36(2), pp.477-498. doi: 10.1007/s10899-019-09900-w.

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