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New Study Supports Need for College-based Resources on Gambling Disorders

by: NCRG Staff | Nov 1, 2011

In 2009, the NCRG’s Task Force on College Gambling Policies recommended that colleges and universities promote understanding of gambling disorders as a mental health issue and provide assessment and intervention resources to address gambling disorders among college students. To assist schools with this recommendation and provide science-based tools to address gambling and gambling-related harms on college campuses, the NCRG launched www.CollegeGambling.org, a comprehensive online resource, in March 2011.

Research shows that approximately 75 percent of college students gambled during the past year, whether legally or illegally. Researchers from Montclair State University  recently published a study about problem gambling awareness messages on college counseling center websites (CCW) to determine what types of information students received about gambling disorders and treatment (McKinley & Wright, 2011). This study further highlights the need for resources like CollegeGambling.org.

The authors argue that CCWs are a critical resource because college students, typically habitual Internet users, are likely to value problem gambling messages found online. Furthermore, research suggests that students perceive information on CCWs to be trustworthy and useful (Van Brunt, 2008). Online health information gathered anonymously is also likely to be appreciated by individuals struggling with a behavior that potentially carries a stigma, such as pathological gambling (Napoli, 2001).

The authors evaluated the content of 203 CCWs based at 4-year, largely residential colleges and universities. They studied whether the institutions’ CCWs offered the same level of information and services for problem gambling as they do for depression, stress/anxiety, pathological eating and alcohol and substance use. Their analysis showed that only 15 percent of the CCWs mentioned problem gambling. More specifically,

  • Less than 1 percent mentioned problem gambling on the home page
  • Almost 5 percent mentioned individual counseling for gambling problems
  • Less than 1 percent mentioned group counseling for problem gambling
  • Less than 5 percent provided a pamphlet on gambling problems
  • Less than 3 percent provided a link to a pamphlet
  • Less than 2 percent mentioned a self-help group for gambling
  • Less than 3 percent provided a link to a self-help group
  • Less than 5 percent provided a link to an issue-specific website devoted to gambling disorders
  • Less than 3 percent offered a self-assessment
  • Less than 1 percent mentioned educational outreach for problem gambling

The authors concluded that compared with the other health topics cited above, viewing gambling as a public health issue is a relatively new phenomenon (Korn & Shaffer, 1999), accounting for the low level of awareness of problem gambling among CCWs.

Want to learn more about gambling and gambling-related harms on college campuses? Make sure you visit CollegeGambling.org for the latest information and check back for additional information and resources.

References

Korn, D.A., & Shaffer, H.J. (1999). Gambling and the health of the public: Adopting a public health perspective. Journal of Gambling Studies, 15, 289-365.

McKinley, C.J., & Wright, P.J. (2011). Examining the presence of problem gambling awareness messages on college counseling center websites. Health Communication. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2011.571756.

Napoli, P.M. (2001). Consumer use of medical information from electronic and paper media. In R.E. Rice & J.E. Katz (Eds.) The Internet and Health Communication (pp. 79-98). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Van Brunt, B.J. (2008). Practical suggestions for improving your counseling website Paper presented at Magna Publications, Madison, WI.

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