This study aimed to assess the impact of gambling problems on quality of life. Specifically, we generated disability weight estimates for gambling problems in New Zealand, and compared these results with (i) Australian figures (J Gambl Issues, 10.4309/jgi.v0i36.3978, 2017) and (ii) other health states (Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61680-8, 2013); such as anxiety and alcohol use disorders.
The 324 participants (48 experts and 276 general population members) evaluated a series of gambling harm vignettes. The participants rated the decrement to one’s quality of life using Visual Analogue Scale and Time Trade-Off protocols (Br Med Bull, 10.1093/bmb/ldq033, 2010). These evaluations enabled the calculation of disability weights for three categories of gamblers (low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers).
Disability weight estimates for low-risk, moderate-risk, and problem gamblers in NZ were consistently higher than the Australian weights: low (0.18 vs. 0.13), moderate (0.37 vs. 0.29), and problem (0.54 vs. 0.44). The quality of life impact for problem gambling in NZ (0.54) was comparable to that experienced in severe alcohol use disorder (0.55) (Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61680-8, 2013).
This study represents one of the first attempts to assess gambling-related harm through a public health perspective. The results of this study are informative for policy-making, resource allocation, and service planning. These estimates now allow for the population-level impact of gambling in NZ to be calculated and tracked over time, which is essential for informing harm-minimisation initiatives.