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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2016

Understanding gambling related harm: a proposed definition, conceptual framework, and taxonomy of harms

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2016
Erika Langham, Hannah Thorne, Matthew Browne, Phillip Donaldson, Judy Rose, Matthew Rockloff
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

There are no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

All of the authors have made substantive intellectual contributions to the study. EL, MB, PD and MR have made substantial contributions to the conception of the study. EL, HT and JR have made substantial contributions to the acquisition of the data. EL, PD and JR have made substantial contributions to the analysis of the data. EL and PD have made substantial contribution to the interpretation of the data. EL drafted the manuscript, HT, MB and MR revised it critically for important intellectual content. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Harm from gambling is known to impact individuals, families, and communities; and these harms are not restricted to people with a gambling disorder. Currently, there is no robust and inclusive internationally agreed upon definition of gambling harm. In addition, the current landscape of gambling policy and research uses inadequate proxy measures of harm, such as problem gambling symptomology, that contribute to a limited understanding of gambling harms. These issues impede efforts to address gambling from a public health perspective.


Data regarding harms from gambling was gathered using four separate methodologies, a literature review, focus groups and interviews with professionals involved in the support and treatment of gambling problems, interviews with people who gamble and their affected others, and an analysis of public forum posts for people experiencing problems with gambling and their affected others. The experience of harm related to gambling was examined to generate a conceptual framework. The catalogue of harms experienced were organised as a taxonomy.


The current paper proposes a definition and conceptual framework of gambling related harm that captures the full breadth of harms that gambling can contribute to; as well as a taxonomy of harms to facilitate the development of more appropriate measures of harm.


Our aim is to create a dialogue that will lead to a more coherent interpretation of gambling harm across treatment providers, policy makers and researchers.
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