A report conducted by Swansea University and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Benevolent Fund has been published, with the effects of problem gambling on RAF personnel one of the main topics explored.
The research project, which involved over 2,000 serving members of the RAF, found that 2% of current personnel are suffering with the effects of problem gambling. The study also looked into how alcohol misuse and mental health affects RAF recruits, and whether one or both issues are interlinked with gambling addiction.
The study claims to show RAF personnel are more at risk from gambling harm than the average citizen.
Simon Dymond, Professor, Swansea University's School of Psychology, commented: “This internationally significant, large-scale study shows, for the first time, that serving members of the RAF are vulnerable to gambling-related harm.
“It is important that we follow up this finding with targeted help and support, including the early identification of potential harms that arise from gambling among currently serving personnel from all services.”
The study, conducted by Professor Dymond’s colleague, Dr Amy Pritchard, goes on to show that a further 13.7% of RAF personnel indicate some degree of risk of developing symptoms of gambling harm. It also highlighted retired veterans are “significantly more likely to experience problem gambling.”
In relation to other factors included in the study, the University reported those with an alcohol problem were twice as likely to succumb to gambling harm, while those who suffered from severe depression were five times as likely.
Chris Elliot, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “We are committed to providing the serving RAF community with appropriate support, and this research will help inform our emotional wellbeing services moving forwards.”
The RAF Benevolent Fund has committed to changing the situation, while making some key recommendations. These include increasing awareness among personnel, screening those with high-risk probability, training for health professionals and line managers and providing coping strategies for those at risk of developing problems.