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New Forces in Mind Trust Report: UK Armed Forces veterans may be more at risk of developing problem gambling

In a new report released today (21 June) by Swansea University and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), preliminary findings suggest UK veterans may be at an increased risk of developing gambling problems than non-veterans, and that this vulnerability may be related to prior experience of traumatic events.

The report, entitled ‘Gambling in Armed Forces Veterans: Results from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of England’, was conducted by Professor Simon Dymond and Elystan Roberts of the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, and colleagues from Bangor University, Anglia Ruskin University and Veterans NHS Wales.  It represents the first-ever exploration of the nature and extent of problem gambling in UK veterans, and was launched at the Excessive Gambling Wales 2017 conference in Cardiff today.

Findings consistent with international evidence include those showing elevated rates of problem gambling in armed forces veterans compared to civilian populations.  Key findings include:

  • UK Armed Forces veterans are more than eight times as likely to exhibit problem gambling (1.41%) than non-veterans (0.17%);
  • Male veterans are more likely than male non-veterans to have experienced a traumatic event (a potential contributor to problem gambling being more prevalent amongst ex-Service personnel); and
  • UK veterans have a tendency towards risk-taking, which may explain a greater susceptibility to developing gambling problems.

Some findings, however, diverged from wider research; for example, results from this study did not show that veteran status and problem gambling could be explained by differences in mental health conditions, substance abuse, or financial mismanagement.

The research was based on an analysis of data from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey; a survey series which is used to provide data on psychiatric disorders in the community-dwelling adult population in England (ie the survey does not cover those homeless at the time, in care homes, or in psychiatric institutions). From the assessed survey data of 5,358 participants, 257 were military veterans. The research, which is currently undergoing peer review, acknowledges that further research is now required using a larger sample of veterans, with specific questions on pre-service mental health, details of participants armed forces careers, and a focus on problem gambling.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The findings of this report indicate that, at least within the limitations of this data set, some significant difference has been shown in the level of problem gambling in UK Armed Forces veterans when compared to the general population. The findings and recommendations of this report are instrumental in informing the need for future research into this important issue. It is clear that a wider evidence base is needed to enable policy makers and service deliverers to better identify suitable and timely treatment interventions that ultimately will aid any ex-Service personnel suffering from gambling-related problems in their transition to civilian life.”

Professor Simon Dymond said: “This report marks an important first step in researching gambling related problems in the UK Armed Forces. Previous international research from the USA and Australia has shown higher rates of problem gambling among Armed Forces populations, but this is the first time this phenomenon has been identified in a UK sample. Given the growing public health challenges posed by problem gambling, this is a crucial finding. We hope that future research will use this report to start a conversation about the need to assess and understand problem gambling in the UK Armed Forces in greater detail.”

Read the report here.

ENDS

Ray Lock is available for interviews. To arrange an interview please contact Kate Turner at kturner@theproffice.com or on 07919 887 036 or 0207 284 6944, or Jack Rodway at jrodway@theproffice.com or on 0207 7284 6961. Professor Simon Dymond is available for interview. To arrange please contact Delyth Purchase d.purchase@swansea.ac.uk or 01792 513022.

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations.  FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012.  http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life, and it delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model around 6 outcomes in the following areas: Housing; Employment; Health and wellbeing; Finance; Criminal Justice System; and Relationships. All work is published in open access and will be hosted on the Veterans Research Hub at Anglia Ruskin University, which is going live in Summer 2017.  A high standard of reportage is demanded of all grant holders so as to provide a credible evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

Useful links

Website: www.fim-trust.org

Reports: www.fim-trust.org/reports/

Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/

Twitter: @FiMTrust

About the Mental Health Research Programme: www.fim-trust.org/mental-health/research-programme/

About Swansea University:

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university.  The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK.  It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The University’s 46-acre Singleton Park Campus is located in beautiful parkland with views across Swansea Bay.  The University’s 65-acre science and innovation Bay Campus, which opened in September 2015, is located a few miles away on the eastern approach to the city. It has the distinction of having direct access to a beach and its own seafront promenade.  Both campuses are close to the Gower Peninsula, the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Swansea is ranked the top university in Wales and is currently The Times and The Sunday Times ‘Welsh University of the Year’. It is also ranked within the top 350 best universities in the world in the Times Higher Education World University rankings.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 showed the University has achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK, with the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ (Times Higher Education, December 2014) in the UK.

The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020, as it continues to extend its global reach and realising its domestic and international ambitions.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit www.swansea.ac.uk

For more information, please contact Delyth Purchase Swansea University Public Relations Office.Tel: 01792 513022, or email:  d.purchase@swansea.ac.uk

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