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Developing a question to identify gambling harms to individuals or affected others and piloting it in three local authorities

FREE Gambling Harms Training for Adult Social Care Staff

As part of this study, we developed FREE training materials for adult social care staff together with GamCare, the UK-wide Gambling Support Charity. Training includes information about support and treatment options, self-exclusion and bank blocking.

See also Video recording of the October 2023 webinar led by Prof Heather Wardle (YouTube, 56 mins)

The following two questions for asking about gambling harms to individuals or ‘affected others’ have been scientifically tested and found to be reliable and acceptable in practice. Choose one (or both) based on staff preference or service considerations.

Two questions about gambling

More about this study


Many people in Britain gamble and do so without problem. But some individuals experience harms such as debt, mental and physical health problems and relationship difficulties. Friends and family of people with gambling problems are also harmed. Local Authorities are being asked by government to help people experiencing gambling harms, such as debt and money problems as well as mental health issues. But Local Authorities are not always sure how to identify people in need of help.

Working with GamCare, the UK's largest gambling support charity, and a team with different research skills and experience of gambling-related harm, we have been funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Social Care programme to test a question for use in three Local Authorities. We hope this will enable people identified as affected by gambling harms to help to get the support they need. It will also tell us more about gambling harms. There is increasing concern about the harms caused to individuals by gambling, to their families, and to wider communities.

Project duration

April 2021 - January 2023

Project funding

National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Research for Social Care Programme (RE17877)

Research team

  • Caroline Norrie (PI) and Professor Jill Manthorpe (NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Care Workforce and NIHR ARC South London, King’s College London)
  • Cat Forward (NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Care Workforce)
  • Anna Hemmings (GamCare)
  • Dr Heather Wardle
  • Dr Stephanie Bramley (University of York)
  • Dr Emily Finch (South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and IoPPN, King’s College London)
  • Frankie Graham (Betknowmore)
  • Dr James Shearer (King’s Health Economics, King’s College London)

What the researchers will do

Phase 1 Development: We will look at the evidence about potential questions which are designed to see if a person might have problems gambling. This will help us develop some questions that might be possible for Local Authority staff to ask people. GamCare, Local Authority social care staff and members of the public will help us see what might work in practice.

Phase 2 Implementation: We will train staff in three Local Authorities to use the question with enquirers/service users and put people affected by gambling harms in touch with sources of help.

Phase 3 Evaluation: We will compare question responses across the three Local Authorities, see if asking the question is acceptable to enquirers/service users and staff, ask people about the training they had and if the question was easy to ask. We will ask Local Authorities what doing this cost them.

We hope our findings will be of use to Local Authorities and other people working in services that help people with gambling problems. We will tell people about our study findings and will also run a regular series of seminars to share knowledge. Please get in touch if you would like to be on the mailing list for this.

Gambling-related harms seminar series

  • 5 May 2021: Dr Heather Wardle and Dr Emma Ryan
  • 14 September 2021: Conversation with Frankie Graham and other experts by experience of Betknowmore gambling support charity on lived experience of gambling harms
  • 29 November 2021: Dr Steve Sharman – Suicide and gambling.
  • 8 June 2022: Women and gambling harms
  • 12 October 2022: Money and mental health
  • 31 October 2023: Adult social care and gambling harms

More details on the seminar series webpage

Related projects at HSCWRU

Project status: Completed