Cognitive Versus Exposure Therapy for Problem Gambling: Randomised Controlled Trial.

 New Study (1)Abstract


Problem gambling-specific cognitive therapy (CT) and behavioural (exposure-based) therapy (ET) are two core cognitive-behavioural techniques to treating the disorder, but no studies have directly compared them using a randomised trial.


To evaluate differential efficacy of CT and ET for adult problem gamblers at a South Australian gambling therapy service.


Two-group randomised, parallel design. Primary outcome was rated by participants using the Victorian Gambling Screen (VGS) at baseline, treatment-end, 1, 3, and 6 month follow-up.


Of eighty-seven participants who were randomised and started intervention (CT = 44; ET = 43), 51 (59%) completed intervention (CT = 30; ET = 21). Both groups experienced comparable reductions (improvement) in VGS scores at 12 weeks (mean difference -0.18, 95% CI: -4.48-4.11) and 6 month follow-up (mean difference 1.47, 95% CI: -4.46-7.39).


Cognitive and exposure therapies are both viable and effective treatments for problem gambling. Large-scale trials are needed to compare them individually and combined to enhance retention rates and reduce drop-out.

Smith, D. P., Battersby, M.W., Harvey, P.W., Pols, R.G., & Ladouceur, R. (2015). Cognitive versus exposure therapy for problem gambling: Randomised controlled trial. Behavior Research and Therapy, 69, 100-110. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.04.008

Forbes Magazine: Patient Fix Thyself… Cognitive Behavior Therapy… may be better than Prozac


“Dump the Couch! And ditch the Zoloft. A new therapy revolution is here,” says the cover of the April, 2007 issue of Forbes Magazine.

Forbes is referring to Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which has “been shown to be surprisingly effective in quelling an ever expanding array of mental maladies: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, bulimia, hypochondria–even insomnia. Now almost 150 clinical trials are under way to learn whether CBT also can help patients with Tourette’s syndrome, gambling addiction, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and more; one trial studies the therapy in children who have been sexually abused.”

The Forbes article highlights patients who improved with CBT, and includes commentary from leaders in the field, including Dr. Aaron Beck.