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Guideline for Screening, Assessment and Treatment in Problem Gambling

 What is the ‘Guideline for Screening, Assessment and Treatment in Problem Gambling'?

This document is the first guideline to address problem gambling in Australia and provides recommendations to guide practice, patient and policy decisions for screening, assessment and treatment of problem gambling. The guideline summarises the research and the current state of knowledge, and has been based on the best available evidence up to March 2010. Several recommendations for practice were made, but only where there was sufficient high quality evidence available.

What does the guideline recommend?

There are three categories of recommendations in the guideline: evidence-based, consensus-based, and practice points.

There are seven evidence-based recommendations in the guideline, all of which relate to treatment. Each recommendation is associated with a Grade which indicates the level and quality of evidence upon which it is based. Each recommendation should be read in conjunction with practice points, which are available in the guideline.

For screening and assessment, in the absence of sufficient high quality evidence, there are three consensus-based recommendations and three practice points.

How do I get a copy of the guideline?

An electronic version of the guideline (3.1mb) is available here. It can also be obtained from the NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines Portal.

A bound copy of the guideline can be obtained for A$25 by completing the downloadable form and sending it to:

Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Centre
Monash University
Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Rd
Notting Hill
VICTORIA 3168

An abridged outline of the guideline has also been published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

A description of the comprehensive methodological process, as well as ten accompanying technical documents, which informed the development of the guideline, are available upon request.

Who has approved the guideline?

The entire guideline and its related appendices, have been approved by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) under Section 14A of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992. In approving this guideline the NHMRC considers that it meets the NHMRC standard for clinical practice guidelines. This approval is valid for a period of 5 years. A comprehensive and systematic process was used to develop the guideline as outlined in ‘NHMRC standards and procedures for externally developed guidelines' (1).

Who developed the guideline?

The guideline was developed by a Guideline Development Group, led by staff at Monash University, and supported by an Expert Advisory Panel as well as other technical and operational support.

The Guideline Development Group comprised: 

Professor Shane Thomas (Chair), Director PGRTC, Monash University
Mr Christopher Anderson, Project Manager, Executive Officer PGRTC, Monash University
Dr Nicki Dowling, Senior Research Fellow PGRTC, University of Melbourne
Professor Alun Jackson, Director PGRTC, University of Melbourne
Ms Stephanie Merkouris, Research Assistant PGRTC, Monash University
Dr Marie Misso, Research Fellow, Australasian Cochrane Centre, Monash University
Dr Harriet Radermacher, Project Manager, Research Fellow PGRTC, Monash University 

With technical and operational support from:  

Ms Anna Chapman, Research fellow PGRTC, Monash University
Ms Felicity Lorains, Research assistant PGRTC, Monash University
Ms Sylvia Niele, Research assistant PGRTC, Monash University
|Professor Sally Green, Australasian Cochrane Centre, Monash University (provided methodological review of the draft guideline)

The Expert Advisory Panel comprised: 

Chair
Professor Shane Thomas, Psychometrics and ethical conduct, Monash University

Clinicians with Specialist Expertise
Professor Malcolm Battersby, Psychiatry, Flinders University
Dr Nicki Dowling, Clinical Psychology, University Of Melbourne
Professor Alun Jackson, Social Work, University Of Melbourne
Professor Leon Piterman, General Practice, Monash University
Professor Jim Westphal, Psychiatry, University Of Hawaii 

Clinician with General Expertise
Associate Professor Danielle Mazza, General Practice, Monash University

Consumer Representatives
Mr Wayne Seiler
Ms Gabi Byrne

Health Economist
Ms Lara Donovan, Centre for Health Economics, Monash University

Indigenous Representative
Mr Ashley Gordon, Indigenous Research and Gambling Consultant

Industry Representatives
Ms Sonja Bauer, Responsible Gaming, Crown Melbourne
Ms Nadine Grinblat, Australasian Gaming Council

Public Policy/Government Representatives
Mr Trevor Hunt, Victorian Department of Justice (Up To October 2010)
Ms Sue Hughes, Victorian Department of Justice (From November2010)
Ms Leeanne Head, Office for Problem Gambling, South Australia

Specialist in evidence review and Guideline Development
Dr Marie Misso, Australasian Cochrane Centre, Monash University

What are the implications for practice?

The recommended actions included within the guideline will in some cases result in new procedures and additional costs for practitioners and services.

In relation to treatment, the guideline recommendations will result in a consolidation of current practices in Australia. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for example, is already widely used as the therapy of choice in problem gambling treatment, and is a standard component of training in psychology and psychiatry clinical curriculums. All the recommendations for practice must be delivered by appropriately trained professionals.


(1) NHMRC. NHMRC standards and procedures for externally developed guidelines. Canberra: NHMRC; 2007; Available from: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/publications/synopses/nh56.pdf.