Gambling Disorder in the United Kingdom: 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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gambling in the modern era is pervasive due to the variety of gambling opportunities including use of technology (such as online applications on smartphones). While many people gamble recreationally without undue negative impact, a sizable subset of individuals develop disordered gambling, 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, research, and treatments for behavioural addictions including Gambling Disorder, which constitutes the only currently recognized formal ‘behavioural’ addiction. This statement from NUK-BA identifies the current status of research and treatment for disordered gambling in the UK (including funding issues), and key research that must be conducted in order to establish the magnitude of the problem, vulnerability and resilience factors, neurobiology, long-term consequences, and treatment opportunities. In particular, we highlight the need to: 1) Conduct independent longitudinal research on prevalence of disordered gambling (Gambling Disorder and at-risk gambling), and gambling harms, including in vulnerable and minority groups; 2) Select and refine the optimal pragmatic measurement tools; 3) Identify predictors (vulnerability and resilience markers) of disordered gambling in people who gamble recreationally, including in vulnerable and minority groups, longitudinally; 4) Conduct randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on psychological interventions and pharmacotherapy for gambling disorder; 5) Optimise our understanding of the neurobiological basis of Gambling Disorder, including genetics, impulsivity and compulsivity, and biomarkers; and 6) Develop clinical guidelines based upon the best possible contemporary research evidence to guide effective clinical interventions. We also highlight the need to consider what can be learnt from other countries’ approaches towards mitigating gambling-related harms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLancet Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Aug 2021


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