Bundy gambling research lab to help gauge harm across Tasman

THE Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory based in Bundaberg will help gauge gambling harms across the Tasman, thanks to a new $286,000 grant from the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

CQUniversity researchers Dr Matthew Browne, Erika Langham and Associate Professor Matthew Rockloff will be working closely with researchers from Auckland University of Technology.

"We are paying special attention to the differing nature of harms as they occur to different sections of the community, such as Maori, who carry a disproportionate share of the burden of gambling harms," Dr Browne said.

"Previous research that has attempted to quantify the amount of harm occurring in the community has focused on purely economic measures. The project is novel in that we will apply ideas from the health literature, measuring harm in terms of quality-adjusted life-years lost due to gambling."

The CQUniversity Laboratory will progress the NZ project alongside an ongoing $300,000 project funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Dr Browne says a conceptual model of gambling harm that conforms with the internationally recognised Burden of Disease (BoD) framework will enable comparisons with other public health issues, including alcohol abuse.

"It is well established that gambling may cause financial, psychological, and even health-related harm to the individual and others," Dr Browne said.

"The prevalence of gambling-related disorders is relatively well understood but further research is required to understand and categorise the full spectrum of harms as an outcome of gambling, as well as to narrow down the actual mechanisms and dynamics through which gambling can lead to harm.

"Our work will be based on a delineation of three broad mechanisms of harms: those arising from excessive time, money, and psychological investment in the activity.

"We will also differentiate between harms to the individual, third parties, and the community.

"A key feature of our approach is to relate gambling harms to an internationally recognised public health metric; quality-adjusted life years (QALYs); grounding the conceptual model within a population health framework, and also delivering a total 'burden of harm' attributable to gambling in the community."

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