Psychological therapies for pathological and problem gambling (Review)

Sean Cowlishaw, Stephanie Merkouris, Nicki Andrea Dowling, Christopher John Anderson, Alun C Jackson, Shane Thomas

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264 Citations (Scopus)


Psychological therapies have been proposed for the treatment of pathological and problem gambling, and this review summarised current evidence for these therapies. It included best‐quality randomised trials, where therapy was compared with conditions including 'no treatment’ controls or referral to Gamblers Anonymous. It considered categories of therapy including: (1) cognitive‐behaviour therapy (CBT); (2) motivational interviewing therapy; (3) integrative therapy; and (4) other psychological therapy. The search identified 14 studies and we combined data from these. Data from nine studies indicated benefits of CBT in the period immediately following treatment. However, there were few studies across longer periods of time (e.g. 12 months) after treatment, and little is known about whether effects of CBT are lasting. Data from three studies of motivational interviewing therapy suggested some benefits in terms of reduced gambling behaviour, but not necessarily other symptoms of pathological and problem gambling. However, the data come from few studies and conclusions regarding motivational interviewing therapy require further research. There were also few studies that provided evidence on integrative therapies (two studies) and other psychological therapies (one study), and there is currently insufficient data to evaluate the efficacy of these therapies
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD008937
Number of pages73
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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