Gambling disorder in the UK: key research priorities and the urgent need for independent research funding

Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Roxanne Hook, Jon E Grant, Konstantinos Ioannidis, Ornella Corazza, Naomi Fineberg, Bryan Singer, Amanda Roberts, Richard Bethlehem, Simon Dymond, Rafael Romero-Garcia, Trevor Robbins, Samuele Cortese, Shane Thomas, Barbara J. Sahakian, Nicki Dowling, Samuel R. Chamberlain

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Gambling in the modern era is pervasive owing to the variety of gambling opportunities available, including those that use technology (eg, online applications on smartphones). Although many people gamble recreationally without undue negative effects, a sizeable subset of individuals develop disordered gambling, which is associated with marked functional impairment including other mental health problems, relationship problems, bankruptcy, suicidality, and criminality. The National UK Research Network for Behavioural Addictions (NUK-BA) was established to promote understanding of, research into, and treatments for behavioural addictions including gambling disorder, which is the only formally recognised behavioural addiction. In this Health Policy paper, we outline the status of research and treatment for disordered gambling in the UK (including funding issues) and key research that should be conducted to establish the magnitude of the problem, vulnerability and resilience factors, the underlying neurobiology, long-term consequences, and treatment opportunities. In particular, we emphasise the need to: (1) conduct independent longitudinal research into the prevalence of disordered gambling (including gambling disorder and at-risk gambling), and gambling harms, including in vulnerable and minoritised groups; (2) select and refine the most suitable pragmatic measurement tools; (3) identify predictors (eg, vulnerability and resilience markers) of disordered gambling in people who gamble recreationally, including in vulnerable and minoritised groups; (4) conduct randomised controlled trials on psychological interventions and pharmacotherapy for gambling disorder; (5) improve understanding of the neurobiological basis of gambling disorder, including impulsivity and compulsivity, genetics, and biomarkers; and (6) develop clinical guidelines based on the best contemporary research evidence to guide effective clinical interventions. We also highlight the need to consider what can be learnt from approaches towards mitigating gambling-related harm in other countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalThe lancet. Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date15 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022


  • Behavior, Addictive
  • Gambling/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Research
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology


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