Assistant Professor Sara Guilcher co-lead on Problem Gambling Research grant

Assistant Professor Sara Guilcher is the co-lead on a multi-year grant from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to support the project, “Optimizing Support and Service Delivery for Problem Gambling Among People Living with Complex Needs.”

This project lead is Dr. Flora Matheson, a scientist with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael’s Hospital. The duo’s grant will support up to $749,000 in project costs over the course of three years.

Problem gambling is a serious public health concern affecting up to seven per cent of the general population internationally. However, the burden of problem gambling is felt more strongly among people who are living in poverty and/or who are homeless.

Dr. Matheson, who is also an assistant professor with U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, documented a prevalence of 35 per cent for problem/pathological gambling among men frequenting shelter services in Toronto. Dr. Matheson said that for people with low incomes who also gamble in excess, the burden of health and social needs is getting worse. Dr. Guilcher and Dr. Matheson’s recent qualitative work has shown that problem gambling is intricately linked to a complexity of needs including substance use, mental health concerns, childhood physical, emotional and psychological trauma, chronic illness, disability and relationship loss.

Current services and interventions, either do not address problem gambling at all, or neglect to integrate interventions for problem gambling into existing services such as those addressing poverty, housing, mental health and substance abuse. The project team aims to inform client-centred service delivery to address the complex needs of persons with problem gambling.

The funding from this grant will be used to develop a mobile app using a scenario-based approach and lessons learned from the team’s literature review and qualitative interviews with clients.