There are a number of gambling-related projects being conducted within the research team:
- The role of neuromodulation for cognitive processing and behavioural inhibition in gambling disorder (Elena Gomis-Vicent, John Turner & Volker Thoma)
Elena recently completed a PhD investigating the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in Gambling Disorder (GD). GD is a behavioural addiction characterised by compulsive and maladaptive gambling behaviour. GD has been associated with dysfunctional cognitive functions linked to a dysregulation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and the manifestation of high impulsivity and excessive risk-taking behaviour. The clinical phase of the research consists of studying the effects of tDCS in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in patients that attend the UK National Problem Gambling Clinic. The main objective of the project is to study whether tDCS on the PFC can modulate cognitive processing, helping to decrease impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour, and therefore offer improved opportunities for the treatment of disordered gamblers.
Recent Related Publications:
Gomis-Vicent, E., Thoma, V., Turner, J.J.D., Hill, K.P. & Pascual-Leone A. (2019). Review: Non-invasive Brain Stimulation in Behavioral Addictions: Insights from Direct Comparisons with Substance Use Disorders. Manuscript submitted for publication.
2. Gambling and Virtual Reality (Steve Sharman & John Turner)
Steve Sharman was awarded a fellowship from the Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA) to use virtual reality to better understand gambling behaviour. The major aim of this research is to design and build fully immersive virtual reality gambling environments (VRGE) that can be used to host a suite of environments that will further understanding of gambling addiction within different forms of gambling behaviours and situations, such as sports betting, and slot machines. Conventional laboratory studies in gambling behaviour using students that retain the necessary experimental control to measure the impact of manipulation of within game constructs have been criticised for lacking the ecological validity of naturalistic studies, however, naturalistic studies lack experimental control. The use of virtual reality allows the researcher to retain experimental control, whilst creating a naturalistic gambling environment.
This innovative methodology will enable a more comprehensive understanding of the cognitions that become distorted in disordered gambling and will allow us to investigate a range of constructs found in different forms of gambling that distort cognitions and behaviour (e.g. stake size, speed of play, win frequency). The VRGE will enable us to isolate and examine each of these components and associated psychological phenomena.
3. Gambling and Homelessness (Steve Sharman & Amanda Roberts)
Steve Sharman also researches the relationship between gambling and homelessness. His previous work has identified that disordered gambling has a higher prevalence in homeless samples than in the general population, that gambling can be a cause of homelessness, and that both awareness and utilisation of services for gambling problems are lower for gambling than for substance use. He has also developed a population-specific screening tool for gambling problems. Ongoing research includes qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with homeless gamblers and statistical evaluation of the screening tool.
Recent Related Publications:
Sharman, S. (2019) Gambling and Homelessness: Prevalence and Pathways. Current Addiction Reports, in press.
Sharman S, & D'Ardenne, J. (2018) Gambling and Homelessness: Developing an information sheet, screening tool and resource sheet. London: GambleAware .
Sharman, S., Dreyer, J., Clark, L., & Bowden-Jones, H. (2016). Down and out in London: Addictive Behaviors in Homelessness. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5(2), 318-324.
Sharman, S., Dreyer, J., Aitken, M., Clark, L., & Bowden-Jones, H. (2014). Rates of Problematic Gambling in a British Homeless Sample: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Gambling Studies, 31 (2), p.525-532. DOI: 10.1007/s10899-014-9444-7.
4. Gambling Treatment Evaluation: (Steve Sharman, Amanda Roberts, Raegan Murphy & John Turner).
Steve Sharman and John Turner are also working with Dr Amanda Roberts (now at Lincoln University) on a collaborative project with the Gordon Moody Association, a registered charity that has been helping rehabilitate compulsive gamblers through its residential treatment programme since 1971. The Association has a residential treatment programme in Dudley, and Beckenham and the team are conducting an extensive evaluation of their programme. Research findings have informed both the Gordon Moody Association and the wider gambling addiction therapeutic community. The unique place of the Gordon Moody service in residential treatment means that this research is the only study of its kind in the UK.
Recent Related Publications:
Sharman, S., Roberts, A., Bowden-Jones, H., & Strang, J. (2021). Gambling in COVID-19 Lockdown in the UK: Depression, Stress, and Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 1.
Roberts, A., Rogers, J., Sharman, S., Melendez-Torres, G. J., & Cowlishaw, S. (2021). Gambling problems in primary care: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Addiction Research & Theory, 1-15.
Both Sharman and Turner are co-signatories on a letter published in the BMJ (and covered in the media) in Jan 2020: Open letter from UK based academic scientists to the secretaries of state for digital, culture, media and sport and for health and social care regarding the need for independent funding for the prevention and treatment of gambling harms - July 16, 2020
Sharman, S., Murphy, R., Turner, J., & Roberts, A. (2019). Trends and Patterns in UK Treatment Seeking Gamblers: 2000-2015. Addictive Behaviors, (89), pp. 51-56.
Roberts, A., Murphy, R., Turner, J., & Sharman, S. (2020). Predictors of dropout in disordered gamblers in UK residential treatment. Journal of gambling studies, 36(1), 373-386.
Sharman, S., Murphy, R., Turner, J., & Roberts, A. (2019). Psychosocial correlates in treatment-seeking gamblers: Differences in early age onset gamblers vs later age onset gamblers. Addictive behaviors, 97, 20-26.