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South Australian doctors to question patients on problem gambling

Mon, Dec 23, 9:55pm by Dominic Ciconte

SA-healthDOCTORS in South Australia will routinely ask patients about their gambling issues under an innovative program announced by the State Government and Australian Medical Association.

Under the plan, when a patient is having a general health check-up, GPs will ask them if they have an issue with gambling as part of their general screening.

Both state and medical officials hope the query from a trusted family doctor can prompt some problem-gamblers to open up and seek help with their issues.

The program is supported by a web page for GPs with fact sheets and advice on the issue.

Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Tony Piccolo, told that GPs now have the opportunity to play a vital role in helping people deal with a gambling problem.

“A large proportion of the community visits their doctor annually, and those who are experiencing a gambling problem may often have other health issues like headaches, anxiety and depression,” Mr Piccolo said.

“But the GP might not know an underlying gambling problem exists unless they ask.

Australian Medical Association SA branch president Dr Patricia Montanaro said such initial screening would be quick and simple.

“We know GPs are busy but screening patients for problem gambling is a simple exercise,” Dr Montanaro said.

“GPs regularly screen their patients for various health issues, and a quick question such as ‘have you, or anyone in your family an issue with gambling?’, as part of a routine assessment is not onerous and can open the door to much needed help.”

According to Government figures, there are approximately 5500 people over the age of 18 suffering from problem gambling in South Australia.

For every problem gambler, it is estimated that five to seven others are impacted.

The initiative is one of many that South Australia has introduced. It comes as State Government changes to gambling advertisements come into effect from March 1.

TV betting ads longer than 15 seconds will have to include a warning message covering 25 per cent of the screen for at least one sixth of the running time. The warnings would also need to be spoken, in a serious tone, on television and radio.


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