In March last year THRI hosted staff from SWSLHD Drug Health Services and their partner NGOs to identify clinical and service issues for alcohol and other drug programs across South Western Sydney and to discuss ways that we could collaborate to address these. From this initial meeting, a program of research on gambling and substance use comorbidity has developed involving clinicians from Drug Health Services and the Mental Health Service in SWSLHD and academic members of THRI. The team comprises: Dr Ron Strauss, Medical Officer Drug Health Services (Clinical lead); Christopher Mosses, Clinical Psychologist Mental Health Services; Dr Elizabeth Conroy, (opens in a new window) Senior Research Fellow THRI (Academic lead); and Dr Rashid Flewellen, (opens in a new window) an early career academic from SoM/THRI.
The team was recently awarded an Office of Responsible Gambling grant to develop guidelines for gambling screening and referral pathways that are appropriate to the hospital environment. SWSLHD has one of the highest rates of expenditure on gambling in Australia yet there is significant delay in people accessing help for a gambling problem, particularly among some community groups. Problematic gambling is elevated among people with substance use disorder and for some psychiatric medications. This has implications for the type of settings in which early identification and referral need to occur. The Comorbidity of Gambling Study (COGS) therefore aims to: 1) establish the prevalence of gambling comorbidity among psychiatric and substance use presentations in the hospital setting; and 2) explore the facilitators and barriers of screening for gambling comorbidity in different hospital departments.