Public Health England reveals details of gambling harm study

21 October 2019

Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, has revealed the details — including the aim, objective, methods and team members involved — of the first in-depth investigation of gambling related harms in England.

The study was first announced in April of this year as part of the British Gambling Commission’s strategy to tackle gambling harms from 2019 to 2022. The Gambling Commission instructed PHE to look at the range and scale of gambling harms, identify the impact of gambling on people’s health and wellbeing, and submit its final report by Spring 2020.

According to PHE, the aims of the review are to “describe the prevalence, determinants and harms associated with gambling, and the social and economic burden of gambling-related harms”. PHE said it believes gaps in the current evidence base may be discovered, and so it hopes to be able to make recommendations for future research.

PHE also listed five core objectives for the review. This will see it establish the prevalence of gambling across differeent demographic, social and geographical groups, then attempt to identify the main factors which lead to gambling related harm. It will then look to identify and quantify the harms suffered by individuals, families, communities and wider society from problem gambling.

It also aims to examine the social and economic of gambling harms, and gather stakeholder views on the issue.

Most of PHE’s work will draw from prior studies undertaken into the subject, with the organisation listing the Gambling Commission's Health Survey for England and the British Gambling Prevalence Survey as possible sources. However, PHE also stated that further analysis may be needed to fill in gaps in the existing body of research.

PHE will use the existing data to conduct a rapid evidence review in its attempts to answer the questions of what harms and risk factors are associated with gambling and with different levels of gambling intensity.

In order to gain stakeholder perspectives, it will undertake an analysis of sources that the organisation said is likely to include public consultations and social media content.

The study will be managed by Marguerite Regan, national programme manager at Public Health England.

The report was first called for by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in its 2018/19 remit letter for PHE, in which it asked PHE to, “inform and support action on gambling-related harm as part of the follow up to the DCMS-led review of gaming machines and social responsibility".