Exposure therapy for problem gambling in rural communities: A program model and early outcomes

Benjamin Riley, David Smith, Jane Oakes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Rural South Australia contains a higher share of electronic gaming machines and gambling expenditure per capita than metropolitan areas, raising concerns about the risk of problem gambling in these communities. This paper describes the implementation and outcomes of an outreach behavioural psychotherapy (exposure therapy) program for problem gambling in rural South Australia. Methods: A retrospective cohort study design was used for 551 adult treatment-seeking problem gamblers who presented to the Statewide Gambling Therapy Service in South Australia. Fifty-one gamblers were from rural areas and participated in the outreach program. Outcomes were compared between gamblers who participated in either the metropolitan-based or rural outreach program. Outcome measures used: South Oaks Gambling Screen, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, Work and Social Adjustment Scale, and hours gambled the previous month. Results: Sixty-one per cent of clients (n=551) completed treatment. There was no significant association between service location and number of treatment completers. Significant improvements were recorded across all outcome measures for both groups with small to large effect sizes, and there were no significant differences in outcomes at post-treatment between the groups while controlling for baseline scores. Conclusions: Both metropolitan and rural clients reported significant clinical improvement. Given the risk of problem gambling in rural communities, these early outcomes are encouraging. These findings will inform future treatment planning and service delivery for rural clients, and guide further research into the effectiveness of exposure therapy for problem gambling.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)142-146
    Number of pages5
    JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


    • Exposure therapy
    • Pathological gambling
    • Problem gambling
    • Rural
    • Treatment


    Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure therapy for problem gambling in rural communities: A program model and early outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this