Tackling Gambling Harm Among Armed Forces Veterans


Research to tackle gambling harm among Armed Forces veterans has received a major boost with three awards, totalling £1 million, for new projects in the field that involve Swansea University experts. 

The projects include evaluating a smartphone app for veterans with gambling disorder and PTSD, which is aimed at reducing symptoms, 

The three projects all involve the Gambling Research, Education and Treatment (GREAT) Network at Swansea University.  GREAT strives to be a world-leading centre of excellence for translational research, evaluation, and evidence-based treatment for gambling-related harm.

The three projects with new funding announced are:

The ACTIVATE study, evaluating a smartphone app to reduce harmful gambling and PTSD symptoms in veterans with co-existing diagnoses of PTSD and gambling disorder. The app is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and the team will examine its efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

The study, worth £300,000, is funded by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (Cabinet Office) Health Innovation Fund and was one of 22 successful awards totalling £5m recently announced by Rt Hon Jonny Mercer MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. ACTIVATE is a collaboration between Swansea University, Combat Stress, and King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London.

The Veterans’ Pathways project, a comprehensive two-year study to better understand gambling in the veterans’ community. 

This brings together leading experts in gambling and veterans research (Swansea University and Anglia Ruskin University), veteran-focused NHS treatment and support services (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust), and the UK’s premier online platform for helping those experiencing harm from gambling (Anonymind). The project is funded by an award of £1m from the Gambling Commission’s Social Responsibility Funds (by way of Regulatory Settlements), with £300,000 coming to Swansea University.

The Look Back to Move Forward project, which will develop a new timeline assessment of gambling, alcohol use, and mental health in recently transitioned veterans. It will lead to systems-wide change in help and support services for veterans with complex addiction needs.

It is a collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University and Adferiad Recovery, the UK’s largest provider of specialist inpatient detoxification treatment and a key delivery partner for the National Gambling Treatment Service.  It is funded through a Transformational Grant award of £300,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Professor Simon Dymond, Director of the GREAT Network at Swansea University said: “We are delighted to receive these important awards and to be part of such productive collaborations with our academic and third-sector stakeholders. 

Better understanding gambling harm among veterans and ensuring they can access individualised help and support is essential to overcome the devastating consequences that harmful gambling can have on former service personnel, their families, and their communities.”

The award of these competitive funds follows on from other related successful funding bids for the GREAT Network team from Greo, the Academic Forum for the Study of Gambling, and The British Academy/Leverhulme Trust for their work on understanding and reducing gambling harm.

Initially funded through a three-year infrastructure grant from Health and Care Research Wales, the GREAT Network has also been awarded an extension of its existing funding for another two years.

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