Problem gambling and tobacco use are highly comorbid among adults. However, there are few treatment frameworks that target both gambling and tobacco use simultaneously (i.e., an integrated approach), while also being accessible and evidence-based. The aim of this two-arm open label RCT was to examine the efficacy of an integrated online treatment for problem gambling and tobacco use.
A sample of 209 participants (Mage = 37.66, SD = 13.81; 62.2% female) from North America were randomized into one of two treatment conditions (integrated [n = 91] or gambling only [n = 118]) that lasted for eight weeks and consisted of seven online modules. Participants completed assessments at baseline, after treatment completion, and at 24-week follow-up.
While a priori planned generalized linear mixed models showed no condition differences on primary (gambling days, money spent, time spent) and secondary outcomes, both conditions did appear to significantly reduce problem gambling and smoking behaviours over time. Post hoc analyses showed that reductions in smoking and gambling craving were correlated with reductions in days spent gambling, as well as with gambling disorder symptoms. Relatively high (versus low) nicotine replacement therapy use was associated with greater reductions in gambling behaviours in the integrated treatment condition.
Discussion and conclusions
While our open label RCT does not support a clear benefit of integrated treatment, findings suggest that changes in smoking and gambling were correlated over time, regardless of treatment condition, suggesting that more research on mechanisms of smoking outcomes in the context of gambling treatment may be relevant.