Alex(Xi) Wang (Asian Family Services)

(New Zealand)
Kelly Feng – Asian Family Services
Topic: Identification of gambling, mental health and other addictive issues among Asian people in primary care
Language: English 


Background: Primary care is the first level of contact of individuals and families with the health system. Within Asian communities, cultural barriers such as shame and stigma are key barriers to seeking mental health and addiction treatment services, but using primary care carries less stigma and discrimination than using secondary services. Hence, primary care may provide an important setting for detecting gambling, mental health and other addictive issues facing Asian people to facilitate early intervention. Aims: This study aimed to investigate the extent of gambling risk/harm, hazardous drinking, smoking, drug use and mental health issues amongst Asian adults attending general practices. Method: A multilingual survey with different language options (English, Chinese, Korean and Hindi) was conducted in two Auckland general practices with high Asian patient enrolment. The target participants were Asian people aged 15 years and above enrolled in the clinics. A total of 305 patients completed the survey comprising measures of gambling harm (Problem Gambling Severity Index, PGSI), emotional distress (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, K10), addictive behaviours (risky alcohol use, smoking, drug use) and help-seeking behaviours. The extent of gambling harm and co-existing issues among survey participants were examined. Findings: One in five survey participants exhibited harmful gambling across a spectrum of severity, including 5.6% problem gamblers (PGSI ≥8), 6% moderate-risk gamblers (PGSI 3-7) and 8.3% low-risk gamblers (PGSI 1-2). The survey also identified co-existing issues among moderate-risk and problem gamblers. Over half of moderate-risk gamblers (52.9%) reported high or very high levels of emotional distress. 35.4% of problem gamblers and 27.8% of moderate-risk gamblers reported that they had had six or more drinks on one occasion in the past 12 months, and one in four (23.5%) problem gamblers were smokers. In addition, 2.6% of survey participants reported that their family members gambled a moderate amount. However, help-seeking for harmful gambling and other addictions among survey participants was low. Conclusion: There is need for initiatives to increase help-seeking and early intervention for harmful gambling and other addiction in primary care settings, along with psychoeducation and support services for affected others in the family.