Assessing Randomised Clinical Trials of Cognitive and Exposure Therapies for Gambling Disorders: A Systematic Review

David Smith, Kirsten Dunn, Peter Harvey, Malcolm Battersby, Renee Pols

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims: Problem or pathological gambling is associated with significant disruption to the individual, family and community with a range of adverse outcomes, including legal, financial and mental health impairment. It occurs more frequently in younger populations, and comorbid conditions are common. Cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) is the most empirically established class of treatments for problematic gambling. This article reports on a systematic review and evaluation of randomised clinical trials (RCTs) concerning two core techniques of CBT: cognitive and behavioural (exposure-based) therapies. Methods: PsycINFO, MEDLINE and the Cochrane library were searched from database inception to December 2012. The CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) for nonpharmacological treatments was used to evaluate each study. Results: The initial search identified 104 references. After two screening phases, seven RCTs evaluating either cognitive (n = 3), exposure (n = 3) or both (n = 1) interventions remained. The studies were published between 1983 and 2003 and conducted across Australia,Canada, and Spain.On average, approximately 31% ofCONSORTitems were rated as 'absent' for each study and more than 52% rated as 'present with some limitations'. For all studies, 70.83% of items rated as 'absent' were in the methods section. Conclusions: The findings from this review of randomised clinical trials involving cognitive and exposure-based treatments for gambling disorders show that the current evidence base is limited. Trials with low risk of bias are needed to be reported before recommendations are given on their effectiveness and clinicians can appraise their potential utility with confidence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-158
    Number of pages20
    JournalBehaviour Change
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Cognitive therapy
    • CONSORT statement
    • Exposure therapy
    • Gambling disorders
    • Randomised clinical trial


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