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GambleAware report offers guidance to avoid “stigmatising language”

GambleAware has published new recommendations designed to reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people who struggle with gambling.

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In a “scoping study,” Dr Anne Stangl, Triantafyllos Pliakas and Mariana Siapka found that a “significant amount” of published research on gambling harm uses “stigmatising language.”

The researchers analysed evidence on stigma, discrimination and gambling from 54 individual studies and nine review papers spanning 19 countries.

Based on their findings, they made several recommendations for “further research, service provision, policy and media campaigns.” Chiefly, the report offers guidelines on what language to use and not to use when discussing gambling harm.

For example, using so-called “person-first” language can help underline that “gambling disorder is a mental disorder, not a label or identity.”

Furthermore, the report cautions against terms such as “gambling addict” and “problem gambler.” Instead, it suggests “person with a gambling disorder” or “person who struggles with gambling.”

“Stigmatising terms should not be used about people who experience gambling harms,” claims the report. “For example, the term ‘addict’ is stigmatising because it reduces a person down to their disorder.” However, the researchers found that many existing studies have “fallen foul” of these guidelines.

Zoë Osmond, GambleAware CEO, said: “Over the coming months and years, a major part of our work will be focused on reducing stigma and the barriers people face when accessing the support they need.

“We welcome the study findings and will use the recommendations to strengthen our work, including our public health campaigns to raise awareness of gambling harms and encourage people to get help.”

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