Van der Gaag calls for need to listen, learn and act on gambling harm

One of the challenges often repeated when addressing gambling related harms is “not enough evidence”, explained Anna van der Gagg.

One of the challenges often repeated when addressing gambling related harms is “not enough evidence”, explained Anna van der Gaag, chair of the advisory board for safer gambling.

Reflecting on Safer Gambling Week, van der Gagg, emphasised the need for listening, learning and acting when it comes to tackling gambling harms. 

“As a lifelong researcher, I support the need for more research,” claimed van der Gaag. “But there is an urgency here. Individuals are suffering harm. So what kind of evidence are we looking for? For what purpose?

“Those involved in the measurement of health care have tended to use somewhat polarised frames of reference; positivist versus interpretive, objective versus subjective, empirical versus narrative, expert versus lay person, each one claiming superiority over the other in an increasingly politicised world of measurement. What creates a way through this forest of conflicting views?”

Citing Muir Gray, Gaag noted that he asserted that health care would, “not only need to retain and improve on the achievements of the modern era but also respond to the requirements of a post-modern society, namely concern about values as well as evidence”.

She continued: “These observations are no less relevant today than they were some two decades ago. We must not wait for one type of research evidence to be fully complete before moving forward on planning provision of services. We must evaluate carefully as provision evolves, and adapt accordingly, listening to those who already provide treatment and support.

“We must listen to what people with lived experience tell us. For individuals, populations, and for society as a whole, these tested observations are key organising principles that can help to create a path to better understanding and improved access to services and support.

The ABSG provides independent advice to the Gambling Commission with the aim to help achieve a Great Britain free of gambling related harms. It is one of three advisory groups who support the Gambling Commission in its work to make gambling “fairer, safer and crime free”.

Additionally, the ABSG also supports the Gambling Commission as it collaborates with others to implement the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, ensuring progress is made on it’s strategic commitments.