Therapist-delivered and self-help interventions for gambling problems: A review of contents

Simone Rodda, Stephanie S. Merkouris, Charles Abraham, David C. Hodgins, Sean Cowlishaw, Nicki A. Dowling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: To date, no systematic approach to identifying the content and characteristics of psychological interventions used to reduce gambling or problem gambling has been developed. This study aimed to develop a reliable classification system capable of identifying intervention characteristics that could, potentially, account for greater or lesser effectiveness. Methods: Intervention descriptions were content analyzed to identify common and differentiating characteristics. A coder manual was developed and applied by three independent coders to identify the presence or absence of defined characteristics in 46 psychological and self-help gambling interventions. Results: The final classification taxonomy, entitled Gambling Intervention System of CharacTerization (GIST), included 35 categories of intervention characteristics. These were assigned to four groups: (a) types of change techniques (18 categories; e.g., cognitive restructuring and relapse prevention), (b) participant and study characteristics (6 categories; e.g., recruitment strategy and remuneration policy), and (c) characteristics of the delivery and conduct of interventions (11 categories; e.g., modality of delivery and therapist involvement), and (d) evaluation characteristics (e.g., type of control group). Interrater reliability of identification of defined characteristics was high (κ = 0.80-1.00). Discussion: This research provides a tool that allows systematic identification of intervention characteristics, thereby enabling consideration, not only of whether interventions are effective or not, but also of which domain-relevant characteristics account for greater or lesser effectiveness. The taxonomy also facilitates standardized description of intervention content in a field in which many diverse interventions have been evaluated. Conclusion: Application of this coding tool has the potential to accelerate the development of more efficient and effective therapist-delivered and self-directed interventions to reduce gambling problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-226
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Change techniques
  • Personalized feedback
  • Reporting guidelines
  • Self-help
  • Taxonomy
  • Treatment

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