Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Gambling and Problem Gambling Among Social Workers (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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673P (WITHDRAWN) Gambling and Problem Gambling Among Social Workers

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Lia Nower, JD, PhD, Professor, Rutgers University, NJ
Wen Li Anthony, PhD, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Jackie Stanmyre, MSW, Assistant Director, Rutgers University, NJ
Douglas Behan, DSW, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Background: Gambling Disorder became the first behavioral addiction when it was reclassified in the DSM-5 in 2013. Though seven years have passed and gambling opportunities have expanded at an alarming rate, few social workers are trained to screen for or treat the disorder, despite its disproportional impact on at-risk populations. This is due, in part, to the glamorization of gambling in society, which views gambling as a harmless activity, fails to label popular forms of gambling such as lottery as “gambling,” and underestimates the severity of gambling-related harms on at-risk populations, traditionally served by social workers. A significant proportion of individuals with problem gambling go unidentified in community and treatment settings, and most schools of social work continue to focus exclusively on substance-based addictions. A first step in raising awareness of this public health issue is to investigate the nature and scope of gambling and problem gambling among clinical social workers themselves and assess whether those with clinical training and experience report similar rates of gambling and problem gambling as the general population.

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.