Objective: To examine the relationship between problem gambling and homelessness.
Method: A consecutive sample of attenders at psychiatric clinics at three inner-city homeless hostels over 8.5 years. The demographic characteristics, comorbid conditions, pathway and pattern of homelessness of those identified to have problem gambling were compared with those who did not report problem gambling.
Results: A total of 2388 individuals were seen at the clinics in the 8 years of the study, of whom 289 (12.1%) reported problem gambling, mainly on poker machines. Those with problem gambling were more likely to be male, to have been married, employed for more than a year and to have a diagnosis of mood disorder. They were less likely to have a diagnosis of psychosis. However, the combination of psychosis and problem gambling was associated with the likelihood of having their financial affairs placed under the control of the Public Trustee.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that earlier attention to problem gambling might reduce the likelihood of becoming homeless, as well as the need for routine enquiry about gambling behaviour, measures to reduce gambling, including expert counselling, restrictions on the availability of addictive forms of gambling and assisting vulnerable individuals with money management.
SOURCE: Machart, T., Cooper, L., Jones, N., Nielssen, A., Doughty, E., Staples, L., & Nielssen, O. (2019). Problem gambling among homeless clinic attenders. Australasian Psychiatry.
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