Basic information

Project leader: Jenny Cisneros Örnberg
Project members: Kristina SundqvistEva SamuelssonPeter WennbergJukka TörrönenRobin RoomLudwig Kraus, Anne H. Berman, Per Binde, Ingeborg Rossow, Rachel Volberg och David Forsström.
Project time: 2017–2022.
Funding: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (Forte). Dnr 2016-07091.


Project description

During the last decades, gambling excessively for money has been increasingly recognized as a problem (often referred to as "problem gambling", “gambling disorder” or "pathological gambling") in most parts of the world, especially in countries where the opportunities to gamble have expanded on the internet. At the same time, the ability to control domestic gambling through legislation, tax rules and other measures has decreased. With growing availability, there has also been an increasing need to understand the ensuing individual and social impacts of gambling.

This program offers an overall coverage of topics of immediate interest in Swedish gambling research today, based on five different work packages:

WP 1: Experiences, formation of and obstacles for help-seeking in the case of gambling problems.

This work package looks at the societal handling of problematic gamblers, in terms of how problems are defined or identified by the gambler or those around him or her, how caregiving personnel and agencies respond to cases, and how treatment provision affects and fits into the life-trajectory of problematic gamblers. WP1 will offer:

  • Practical insights in how persons with excessive gambling themselves reason about their needs of treatment, barriers and preferences for help-seeking.
  • A review of available treatment possibilities in Sweden and differences between different regions and counties.
  • Ideas about how treatment options can be formulated in order to lower help-seeking thresholds.
  • Strategies for reducing stigma related to gambling problems which in turn will lead to an increase in treatment utilization.

WP 2: Measurement: screening, problem characterization and treatment follow-up.

This work package aims to develop and test appropriate instruments for use in Sweden in measuring aspects of gambling behavior, problems and dependence relevant to clinical application and in measuring outcomes. It will also test whether heavy use over time may better measure gambling disorders and may serve as a valid instrument for measuring gambling problems. WP 2 will offer:

  • Practical knowledge of what instruments to use in gambling research, but also in clinical settings.
  • Development of a new self-report instrument for screening and severity assessment.
  • Evidence on whether the concept of  ”heavy use” may be applied to behavioral disorders such as gambling and may serve as alternative measure of gambling related problems.

WP 3: Problem gambling and psychiatric comorbidity – a matter of gender and socio-demographic status. Problem gamblers often have multiple problems, including alcohol use disorders and other psychiatric conditions. 

This work package will use a variety of datasets to disentangle overlaps and time-ordering between problem gambling and other disorders, and to demographically locate particular combinations in the population. Apart from contributing to our understanding of the course of gambling and other problems, the results will help guide clinical responses to particular combinations of problems. WP 3 will offer:

  • Concrete descriptions on how and when problem gambling co-occurs with other psychological problems such as excessive drinking, drug use or mental health issues.
  • Knowledge on how different groups of gamblers differ regarding co-occurring conditions and thus how treatment programs can be adjusted accordingly.
  • Knowledge on how problem gambling correlates, such as comorbid conditions, impulsivity, gender and socio-demographic status, interact in the etiology of problem gambling.
  • Knowledge on whether self-help to gamblers can be provided in the form of self-monitoring via the Internet.

WP 4: Policy development and impact

Drawing on the developing international literature of studies of the effects of changes in gambling regulation, this work package will conduct policy impact studies as and when Swedish gambling policies change. WP4 will also provide evidence for consumer protection measures and develop recommendations for their implementation and evaluation. WP 4 will offer:

  • Knowledge on the influence of price and repayment percentage on gambling policy development and on gambling behaviors.
  • Knowledge on how responsibility for persons with gambling problems is safeguarded and by whom.
  • Knowledge on the effectiveness and best practice of consumer protection measures for reducing gambling problems and gambling disorder.
  • Knowledge on crime and debts connected to gambling problems.

WP 5: International comparisons and cooperation.

In cooperation with international researchers and groups, this work package will set Swedish developments in conceptualization, measurement, treatment, policy development and implementation in a comparative cross-national frame, and bring the fresh insights from these comparisons to bear on Swedish research and policy advice. WP 5 will offer:

  • Comparisons with international studies regarding gaps in the evidence for policies, strategies and interventions, likely or intended to prevent harm associated with gambling.