Patients’ and professionals’ beliefs about the impact of social stigmatization on treatment of gambling-related disorders
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Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii, Zakład Badań nad Alkoholizmem i Toksykomaniami, Warszawa
Submission date: 2019-06-13
Final revision date: 2019-09-16
Acceptance date: 2019-09-16
Online publication date: 2021-02-28
Publication date: 2021-02-28
Corresponding author
Katarzyna Dąbrowska   

Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii
Psychiatr Pol 2021;55(1):181-196
Studies carried out so far have shown that negative stereotypes concerning people with gambling disorders and, in particular, the belief that these people bear personal responsibility for their illness, can significantly contribute to the stigmatization of these people. Shame and fear of stigmatization significantly hinder the decision to start treatment. This study investigates the beliefs of respondents about the impact of stigmatization of people with gambling disorders on the social perception of treatment of gambling disorders and the beliefs of respondents about the impact of stigmatization on undertaking treatment or seeking help. Furthermore, the study investigates whether treatment can help reduce stigma and whether professionals, in some way, take this problem into account in their practice.

In the first half of 2015, 90 semi structured individual interviews were conducted with people with gambling disorders, social workers, therapists employed in addiction treatment facilities, General Practitioners and psychiatrists.

The public reaction to the fact of starting treatment depends on how gambling disorder is perceived: in terms of a medical problem or rather in moral terms. Positive reviews were mainly manifested by significant others who, according to Goffman’s terminology, are ‘wise’. Very often, treatment means having to reveal your problem and face stigmatization. Women in particular are stigmatized because of gambling disorders. This study showed that treatment allows to getr id of guilt by acquiring knowledge on the subject of gambling disorders.

Addressing stigma during early stages of treatment may contribute to the continuity of treatment. Professionals should be aware of their prejudices, as their stigmatizing attitudes can influence treatment outcomes.

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