Around 1 in 20 people waiting to see their GP in Bristol report having a gambling problem, according to a new study published in the British Journal of General Practice.
The researchers, from the universities of Bristol, York and the Australian National University, surveyed over 1000 patients in 11 surgeries in the city.
Patients were asked to complete anonymous questionnaires which included questions about their mental health and addictive behaviours, such as drug or alcohol use. They found that gambling problems were significantly higher in young men, people who use alcohol and drugs, and those with depression.
Just under one per cent of patients reported having a severe gambling problem, and 4.5 per cent reported having a ‘low to moderately severe’ gambling problem.
Dr. Sean Cowlishaw, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Gambling is emerging as a public health issue in the UK but it is poorly researched. There is very little independent data available and none at all on how many people presenting to GPs have a problem.’
‘In this study we wanted to measure the extent of the problem and identify who is most vulnerable so that we can start to think about how primary care services – GPs and others providing healthcare in the community – might be able to help. This could include training and support for GPs so that they can identify patients with problems and signpost them to specialist services.’