Families play an important role in the evolution of gambling and are also adversely affected by the disordered gambling of any one of their members. The aims of this study were to explore both the role families play in gambling initiation, maintenance, and help-seeking, and the harm caused to families by the gambling behavior using a qualitative approach.
Regular older adult gamblers were included in the study. In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 older adults to gain an understanding of gambling from their perspective. Older adult gamblers described their lived experience of gambling ranging from initiation to harm and attempts to cut down or limit gambling. Data were analyzed using thematic network analysis.
The mean age of the 25 participants was 66.2 years. The majority were male ( n = 18), of Chinese ethnicity ( n = 16), had secondary education ( n = 9), were married ( n = 20), and currently employed ( n = 15). Four organizing themes related to the role of families in initiation and maintenance of gambling, harm caused to family members, and their role in help-seeking were identified.
The study emphasizes the role of Asian families in both initiation and maintenance of gambling. Hence, families must be involved in prevention and outreach programs. Family members must be educated, so that they can encourage help-seeking to ensure early treatment and recovery. There is a need for interventional studies for reducing stress and improving coping among family members.