Problem Gamblers: General Practitioners Perception of Self-Competency in Detection and Intervention
Martin, F and Matthews, AJ and Provost, s and Provost, A and Peacock, AK, Problem Gamblers: General Practitioners Perception of Self-Competency in Detection and Intervention, Department of Health and Human Services, Tasmania. (2013) [Contract Report]
This questionnaire study was conducted with the aim of assessing whether general practitioners (GPs) believe that early intervention, as well as identification, of problem gambling falls within their role responsibility, whether GPs possess the knowledge and skills to detect problem gamblers, and whether GPs are conscious of, and willing to utilise, available referral pathways. In order to answer these questions, 155 GP practices in Tasmania were contacted and 2000 questionnaires were delivered to 72 consenting practices. In spite of dedicated efforts in following up practices, only 37 completed questionnaires from 28 practices were received and analysed. This poor response rate is a limitation of this study and hence the data should be treated with caution. GPs, rather than believing that problem gambling falls within their role responsibility, believe that gambling is not a serious problem, does not fall within conventional medicine, and is a lifestyle or moral issue under the control of the problem gambler rather than the GP. GPs are not confident of their skills in detecting problem gamblers and indeed very few of them even attempt to do so. Although at least half of the GPs indicated that they were aware of referral channels and some of them were able to name potential referral pathways, their responses to the attitude and knowledge questionnaire indicated that they were not confident in their knowledge of referral channels and practices. Very few GPs indicated that they had seen or detected a problem gambler over the previous year and very few had referred a problem gambler to one of these services in the year prior to the survey. It is clear that GPs may benefit from education regarding not only detection of problem gambling and referral pathways for problem gamblers once detected but also regarding the role of the GP in addiction and its processes.