Hedge your bets: design, implementation, and evaluation of an online gambling harm reduction program for offender populations

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Albright-Tolman, Jami I.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Health Sciences
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Health Sciences
Gambling is a common recreational activity that may cause harm to the gambler, their family and friends, and society. Though gambling only causes harm to a small proportion of the general population, it impacts offender populations (consisting of criminal offenders) at much higher rates. Due to unique demographic and subculture factors, offenders are both highly susceptible to gambling harm and less affected by programs designed to address that harm. In this dissertation, I present the development and evaluation of an online gambling harm reduction program for offenders, their family, and those who or live or work with offenders. The program, called Hedge Your Bets, teaches participants about gambling through four online modules that required a demonstration of mastery before proceeding to the next module: (1) gambling knowledge, (2) gambling fallacies, (3) gambling-related mathematical skills, and (4) gambling problems, with each module being delivered one week apart. A total of 84 adults were initially recruited into the study, with 27 of these having criminal convictions and 57 having either worked with offenders or being a close friend or family member. A total of 58 individuals completed the post-program assessment one week after the final module and 53 completed the follow-up survey three weeks after that. Longitudinally, the four modules were effective at creating gambling-related knowledge and skills that were associated with more negative attitudes toward gambling over time as well as decreased gambling behavior, with this latter effect being more pronounced for the offender group. Thus, Hedge Your Bets appears to be a promising program for reducing gambling-related harm in offender populations, though future research should be conducted with larger sample sizes of offenders.
gambling , offenders , forensic populations , gambling harm reduction , problem gambling prevention , gambling and recidivism , correctional program for gambling