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Australians spend more money per person gambling than people from any other country, around twice the average per capita expenditure of Western countries. Around 1% of adults in most Western countries experience disordered gambling causing harms to themselves and others; a further 4% experience serious sub-clinical gambling problems; and, on average, every problem gambler adversely affects the lives of another 6 people. The estimated societal and economic impact of gambling in Australia is $4.7 billion per annum. Classified as a behavioural addiction in DSM-5, ‘gambling disorder’ is comparable to substance-use disorders in terms of aetiology, biology, comorbidity, and treatment.

Common harms include psychological distress, poor physical health, lack of sleep, stress, financial distress, relationship breakdown. Most people do not seek gambling treatment until they reach a crisis point, making early identification and prevention of problems critical to harm minimization. On average, 9 years elapses between experience problems caused by gambling and seeking treatment. Individuals are likely to encounter many professionals during this time, as gambling has major impacts across life areas, including physical and mental health.

Research has shown general medical practitioners are the most preferred source of help for gambling among regular gamblers at more than double the next preferred option. Yet few professionals (e.g., doctors, nurses, social service/welfare providers, counsellors) screen for and discuss gambling problems with barriers including not feeling prepared, lack of training, and high rates of stigma towards gambling disorder. Evidence shows health professional training increases awareness of gambling disorder, reduces stigma, and increases identification of risk indicators and referrals to services.


Professor Sally Gainsbury.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



This project aims to develop and evaluate face-to-face and online education programs for health professionals to increase awareness of gambling problems, screening for gambling problems and treatment referrals.

Methods will include a systematic review of the relevant literature. Co-design should be used to engage with relevant stakeholders including gambling help service users, individuals who do not currently engage with help services, and professionals who currently do and do not screen for gambling problems but are likely to be in contact with individuals experience gambling harms. A pilot face-to-face or online training program would be developed for professionals. A trial would seek to evaluate the impact of the training on professionals’ use of gambling problem screening, knowledge of gambling problems, confidence in discussing gambling with clients, and referrals to treatment.

Additional information

The student will be based within the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic and Technology Addiction Team, within the School of Psychology and Brain and Mind Centre. This will enable access to many opportunities in addition to the extensive resources provided to postgrad students by USyd.


HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving licence;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2942

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