Critical Factors Predicting Willingness to Seek Professional Treatment and Informal Support among Frequent Gamblers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Ben Kuo


Behavioral psychology, Psychology, Clincal psychology




Professional treatment services for problem gambling are vastly underutilized, while help-seeking through informal support networks has been understudied. The key determinants of help-seeking in problem gamblers are not well understood, in large part because of the lack of a theoretical framework to elucidate the help-seeking process in this population. The present study tested a revised version of the Andersen Behavioural Model using structural equation modeling in a heterogeneous sample of at-risk gamblers. Variables that were included fell into the Andersen Behavioural Model's framework of Predisposing Factors (attitudes toward professional and informal help-seeking), Enabling Factors (perceived barriers to treatment and social support), and Need Factors (gambling severity, gambling frequency, and adverse financial consequences). Readiness for change was also included in the model. A total of 319 total participants were recruited from a university student population, gamblers undergoing treatment, and the general population. The Revised Andersen Model received partial support in the analyses. It was found that attitudes toward seeking help for problem gambling was the strongest predictor of help-seeking willingness. In addition, factors associated with a need for treatment (i.e., gambling severity, gambling frequency, and financial consequences) led to an increase in Readiness to Change. Contrary to previous research, Need Factors were not predictive of increased willingness to seek help. However, Need Factors negatively predicted social support, perceived barriers to treatment, and attitudes toward help-seeking, and these relationships may have impeded help-seeking behaviour for the participants. An alternative model of help-seeking, which separated predictors and outcomes of help-seeking for professional and informal sources, also received partial support. The findings suggest that there may be differential predictors and pathways to seeking help from professional and informal sources. Research and clinical implications of the present findings are discussed.