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Gamblers’ (mis-)interpretations of Problem Gambling Severity Index items: Ambiguities in qualitative accounts from the Swedish Longitudinal Gambling Study
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0856-9854
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Public Health Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0013-2965
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Public Health Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5923-0092
2019 (English)In: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN 1455-0725, E-ISSN 1458-6126, Vol. 36, no 2, p. 140-160Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is a screening instrument frequently used to identify risk and problem gambling. Even though the PGSI has good psychometric properties, it still produces a large proportion of misclassifications. Aims: To explore possible reasons for misclassifications in problem gambling level by analysing previously classified moderate-risk gamblers’ answers to the PGSI items, in relation to their own current and past gambling behaviours. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 19 participants reporting no negative consequences from gambling. They were asked the PGSI questions within an eight-year time frame (2008 to 2016). Ambiguous answers to PGSI items were subject to content analysis. Results: Several answers to the PGSI items contained ambiguities and misinterpretations, making it difficult to assess to what extent their answers actually indicated any problematic gambling over time. The item about feelings of guilt generated accounts rather reflecting self-recrimination over wasting money or regretting gambling as a meaningless or immoral activity. The item concerning critique involved mild interpretations such as being ridiculed for buying lottery tickets or getting comments for being boring. Similar accounts were given by the participants irrespective of initial endorsement of the items. Other possible reasons for misclassifications were related to recall bias, language difficulties, selective memory, and a tendency to answer one part of the question without taking the whole question into account. Conclusions: Answers to the PGSI can contain a variety of meanings based on the respondents’ subjective interpretations. Reports of lower levels of harm in the population should thus be interpreted with caution. In clinical settings it is important to combine use of screening instruments with interviews, to be able to better understand gamblers’ perceptions of the gambling behaviour and its negative consequences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 36, no 2, p. 140-160
Keywords [en]
gamblers’ perceptions, gambling screening instrument, harm, PGSI, qualitative analysis
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public Health Sciences; Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-167869DOI: 10.1177/1455072519829407ISI: 000464038100007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-167869DiVA, id: diva2:1303456
Projects
REGAPS
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07091
Note

This work was supported by the Public Health Agency of Sweden under grant 04178-201 and conducted within the frame of the research programme REGAPS (Responding to and Reducing Gambling Problems Studies). The REGAPS programme is supported by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (Forte) under grant 2016-07091 and the Svenska Spel research council under grant FO2016-0017.

Available from: 2019-04-09 Created: 2019-04-09 Last updated: 2019-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Samuelsson, EvaWennberg, PeterSundqvist, Kristina
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