Don't Say the ‘P’ Word: Problem Gambling Is More than Harm

Paul Delfabbro, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

4 Citations (Scopus)


An important consequence of adoption of public health approaches in the field of gambling studies has been the increasing emphasis afforded to gambling harm. Reducing or eliminating harm has now become the overt stated mission of many government foundations and funding bodies. A by-product of these developments has been the gradual reduction of references to terms capturing the nature of the primary disorder (problem or pathological gambling or gambling disorder) in preference for what are considered to be more neutral or less ‘stigmatising’ terms (e.g. ‘people with gambling harm’). In this paper, we argue that this conflation of gambling harm with the disorder is misguided. Not only does it fail to acknowledge the validity of the disorder but it is also unjustified by evidence and may have unintended negative consequences for both people affected by gambling and the field more generally. In particular, we focus on the clinical and legal advantages of adherence to an individual-centred, pathology model of gambling disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-843
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2020


  • Harm
  • Language
  • Pathological gambling
  • Problem gambling
  • Psychology
  • Public health
  • Stigma


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