Free webinar aims to upskill GPs on treating gambling harm

Matt Woodley

22/09/2021 3:56:47 PM

SPONSORED: The training will help GPs identify patients with potential gambling issues and provide strategies to minimise harm and aid recovery.

A row of slot machines in a casino.
People in NSW spent $2.17 billion on gaming machines from June–November last year.

In 2016, Australians accrued $18.3 billion in gambling losses – equivalent to nearly $1000 per adult and more money per resident than any other country on the planet.
And yet, recent research suggests gambling has gained an even larger foothold in Australian life in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite lockdowns, people in NSW spent more money gambling in 2020 than in 2019; $2.17 billion was spent on gaming machines from June–November last year – a 7% increase on the same period in 2019.
Likewise, Victorian losses to online bookmakers increased by 35% on pre-pandemic levels last year to reach $1.4 billion in the second half of 2020 alone, while an Australian Gambling Research Centre survey found people who gamble four or more times a week has increased from 23% to 32%.
Moreover, 79% of survey participants were classified as being at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling-related harm.
Dr Hester Wilson, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Addiction Medicine, told newsGP patients with gambling problems are ‘not uncommon’ in general practice and that GPs should know how to identify and support people who are having issues.
‘Certainly, for me, it’s not something that’s front of mind when somebody comes in. But it is an important issue that significantly affects people’s lives and can have incredible impact,’ she said.
‘It’s important for us as GPs to understand the risks and the prevalence of gambling and the fact that we do see people, as well as how we can have those conversations with our patients to find out if gambling is an issue for them.
‘And also, then what we can do – can we talk to them ourselves? Or where can we refer them? There are some really excellent services around that we can refer people to.’
A new webinar, run by the RACGP and supported by the Office of Responsible Gambling, is set to run on 29 September and will cover a number of areas relevant to helping GPs deal with this area of general practice, including:

  • what is gambling harm?
  • the prevalence of gambling and the public health impact in Australia and NSW
  • case studies and screening tool examples
  • the use of psychoeducation
  • co-morbidities – psychological, physical, and social
  • strategies for referral. 
It will teach participants to:
  • Explain gambling harm and public health issues
  • Identify co-morbid conditions and gambling problems
  • Utilise a range of tools for screening for gambling in the general consultation
  • Demonstrate strategies for providing psychoeducation to patients for reducing gambling harm
  • Explain strategies for appropriately referring to gambling support services
Clinical psychologist and the manager and clinical lead of GambleAware South Eastern Sydney, Dr Kate Fennessy, will present the webinar alongside Sophia Tran, who is also a clinical psychologist and supervisor at GambleAware Central Sydney.
In addition to the webinar, Dr Wilson will participate in two 15-minute podcasts run by the RACGP NSW&ACT Faculty.
GPs who view the webinar and tune into the two podcasts will accrue three CPD points.
Register online.
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