School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences
Medical and Health Sciences| Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Masters by Research

Research Details

Thesis Name

Assessing Harms from Gambling Independent of Behavioural Addiction

Thesis Abstract

The current research aims to test conceptual criticisms of the Short Gambling Harms Scale (SGHS). The SGHS has been designed to screen for gambling-related harm (GRH) among adult populations. Screening for GRH is important as many existing population-level screens measuring problematic gambling conflate behaviours with harms. This distinction is crucial, as harm is the key metric when adopting a harm-minimisation framework. The SGHS consists of 10 binary-scored harms items. Although the SGHS has demonstrated strong validity and reliability, there have been several criticisms levelled against this instrument. Critics question the ability of the instrument to adequately capture the construct of GRH. It has been suggested that some of the SGHS items are too mild in severity, raising doubts as to whether or not they are unequivocally harmful. The critics argue that such items intended to capture specific negative consequences may instead be reflecting opportunity costs. If true, then it would follow that these items would weaken the ability of the SGHS to predict more severe and significant harms. It has further been argued that the screen cannot be validly aggregated to produce a meaningful sum score due to differences in severity between items. Each of these criticisms forms the basis of three respective research questions to be investigated in the current project. These questions will be addressed using novel analyses of retrospective survey data.

Why my research is important/Impacts

Gambling is a dynamic and deeply consequential public health concern. The SGHS may offer policymakers a lean measure to gauge current and future harms associated with gambling to improve public policy on this issue. Ensuring the SGHS is a robust measure of gambling-related harm is thus of high potential impact to researchers and policymakers in this field, as well as to CQUniversity and the broader community. This project aligns with CQUniversity's research strengths under the umbrella of the Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory (EGRL). The proposed research is situated within ABS research fields 170110 (Psychological Methodology, Design and Analysis) and 170106 (Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology).