Challenges in the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Gambling-Related Harm

Paul Delfabbro, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the significance of recent developments in research relating to gambling-related harm. Previous research, it is argued, has failed to capture gambling-harm in a way that is useful to inform public policy and regulation. This is because most standardised psychometric measures and the DSM classifications have conflated gambling behaviour and harm and mostly focused on serious harms. As a result, little has generally been known about the prevalence of harm in lower risk gambling groups. Here we summarise the findings from recent harm research, the methodologies used and their conceptual implications. It is argued that strong progress has been made in the categorization and measurement of gambling harm, but that caution must be applied when applying these measures to estimate the ‘burden of disease’ associated with gambling in the community. Particular issues discussed include: the differentiation of opportunity cost and harm; the validity of additive methods involving different severities of measured harm; using comparisons with unfamiliar disorders; and the validity of prevention paradox arguments in this area of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-755
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability
  • Gambling harm
  • Low risk gambling
  • Opportunity cost
  • Problem gambling
  • Quality of life


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