Measuring gambling-related harms among children and young people: A framework for action

Research on behalf of the Gambling Commission and GambleAware.

The author(s)
  • Dr. Margaret Blake Public Affairs
  • Dr. Claudia Mollidor Public Affairs
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Development of the framework

The Gambling Commission published a framework for measuring harms in May 2019. This report, which was developed by Ipsos in collaboration with the Gambling Commission, Advisory Board for Safer Gambling and GambleAware, presents a framework to better understand the harms that can occur from gambling.  These include impacts on health, relationships and finances among young people. It builds on earlier work by the Gambling Commission to develop a framework for gambling-related harms among adults.

Key aspects of young people’s lives differ from adults which affects the ways in which they are likely to experience harm from gambling.  Childhood and adolescence is a key stage of development which means that harms are likely to impact their future potential as well as having impacts in childhood and adolescence. Children and young people are also financially and emotionally dependent on others which means that as well as their own gambling, the gambling of others, especially parents, has the potential to cause harm.

This framework has been developed through a workshop with professionals working with young people and experts in gambling, and focus groups and interviews with young people.  The initial questions cover just some of the harms in the framework and are intended to explore harms experienced from all gambling, even where it would not be classified as problem gambling.  The framework has also been designed to cover both severe harms that affect fewer people, as well as less severe, more intangible harms that may affect more people.

This work is a starting point for exploring gambling-related harms for young people and we anticipate that the framework and measures will develop in the future.

In addition to Ipsos, Heather Wardle (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Gerda Reith (University of Glasgow) were also co-authors of this report.

Testing of questions

The questions developed as part of the harms framework have now been tested using the Young Person’s Omnibus Survey and results from this pilot have now been published.  The testing of the questions showed which questions worked well and the findings were used to reduce the number of statements included in the questionnaire to minimise participant burden.  This informed the final set of questions being included on the Young People’s Omnibus Survey in 2020 for which published results will be available in autumn 2020.

Technical Note

The framework was developed and measures tested through:

  • an expert workshop of professionals and researchers working with young people and working in the field of gambling;
  • four focus groups in schools with young people aged 13-18;
  • cognitive testing of proposed questions with young people aged 16-21;
  • pilot survey with young people aged 11-16 on the Young People’s Omnibus Survey.

Expert workshop of professionals and researchers

15 professionals participated in this workshop convened by Ipsos and held in August 2018.  At the workshop participants were asked to describe the challenges facing young people today generally.  This was followed by sub group and plenary discussion about harms related to gambling for young people. The harms suggested at this workshop were thematically organised, both during and after the workshop to form the basis of the framework.

Focus groups with young people

Two groups look place in the West Midlands with boys aged 14-15 and two mixed gender groups took place in the North of England with young people aged 16-17.  Across four groups 35 young people participated.  The groups took place in October 2018.  The discussions with young people focused on their experiences and perceptions of gambling and motivations to gamble. Young people were also asked to give their views on the first draft of the framework (developed after the workshop with experts) to obtain their views on the domains and to gauge the extent to which the framework reflected their understanding and experiences of gambling.  The framework was developed further following the focus groups.

Cognitive testing of proposed questions

Based on the previous stages initial questions to measure harm were developed to cover different aspects of the harms framework.  These questions were tested in 20 interviews with young people aged 16-21 which included those who gambled and those who did not.  The interviews took place in November 2018 in and around London.

Testing of questions in the pilot survey
The questions were tested using the Young People’s Omnibus Survey between 12 February – 19 June 2019.  2,693 young people aged 11-16 responded to the questions about gambling harm.  The questions formed a module of a longer questionnaire which included other questions about gambling asked on behalf of the Gambling Commission.  The report of the other gambling related questions asked on the survey was published in October 2019.

Please see the framework and pilot reports for more details about the methodology.


The author(s)
  • Dr. Margaret Blake Public Affairs
  • Dr. Claudia Mollidor Public Affairs

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