Problem gambling-specific cognitive therapy (CT) and behavioural (exposure-based) therapy (ET) are two core cognitive-behavioural techniques to treating the disorder, but no studies have directly compared them using a randomised trial.
To evaluate differential efficacy of CT and ET for adult problem gamblers at a South Australian gambling therapy service.
Two-group randomised, parallel design. Primary outcome was rated by participants using the Victorian Gambling Screen (VGS) at baseline, treatment-end, 1, 3, and 6 month follow-up.
Of eighty-seven participants who were randomised and started intervention (CT = 44; ET = 43), 51 (59%) completed intervention (CT = 30; ET = 21). Both groups experienced comparable reductions (improvement) in VGS scores at 12 weeks (mean difference -0.18, 95% CI: -4.48-4.11) and 6 month follow-up (mean difference 1.47, 95% CI: -4.46-7.39).
Cognitive and exposure therapies are both viable and effective treatments for problem gambling. Large-scale trials are needed to compare them individually and combined to enhance retention rates and reduce drop-out.
Smith, D. P., Battersby, M.W., Harvey, P.W., Pols, R.G., & Ladouceur, R. (2015). Cognitive versus exposure therapy for problem gambling: Randomised controlled trial. Behavior Research and Therapy, 69, 100-110. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.04.008