Methods: This study used cross-sectional survey design. A total of 1,777 clinically-licensed social workers (88.8% female, 90.2% licensed in the State of New Jersey) completed the survey administered via the Internet. Survey respondents were asked to detail their frequency of play for a variety of gambling activities (e.g., buying lottery and scratch-off tickets, playing bingo, sports wagering etc.). The Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen was used to assess their problem gambling.
Results: More than 75% of the social work clinicians reported gambling in the past year, with 21.2% gambling at moderate frequency (i.e., once or twice a month) and 7.8% gambling at high frequency (i.e., once a week or more). In addition, 3.4% of the total sample and 4.4% of those who gambled met one or more criteria for problem gambling – a rate higher than found in many epidemiological samples. Multinomial logistic regression revealed that women had significantly lower odds of high-frequency gambling, and older adults (60+ years of age) had significantly higher odds of moderate- and high-frequency gambling. Playing lottery, scratch-offs, bingo and/or daily fantasy sports predicted high- versus low- frequency gamblers, whereas lottery and daily fantasy sports predicted high- versus moderate-frequency gambling. Gambling on mobile devices was associated with significantly higher odds of moderate- and high-frequency gambling. Binary logistic regression revealed that gambling on slots and gambling on computers significantly predicted problem gambling.
Conclusions and Implications: This is the first large-scale survey to explore the nature and extent of gambling and problem gambling among clinical social workers. Despite the sample of experienced clinicians, rates of past-year gambling were similar to those in the general population and rates of high-frequency and problem gambling were slightly higher. Implications for education, prevention, and workforce development efforts in social work will be discussed.