Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

Internet-based interventions for disordered gamblers: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of online self-directed cognitive-behavioural motivational therapy

David C Hodgins1*, Gordon H Fick2, Robert Murray3 and John A Cunningham34

Author affiliations

1 Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

2 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

3 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada

4 Department of Psychology and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-10

Published: 8 January 2013



Gambling disorders affect about one percent of adults. Effective treatments are available but only a small proportion of affected individuals will choose to attend formal treatment. As a result, self-directed treatments have also been developed and found effective. Self-directed treatments provide individuals with information and support to initiate a recovery program without attending formal treatment. In previous research we developed an telephone-based intervention package that helps people to be motivated to tackle their gambling problem and to use basic behavioral and cognitive change strategies. The present study will investigate the efficacy of this self-directed intervention offered as a free online resource. The Internet is an excellent modality in which to offer self-directed treatment for gambling problems. The Internet is increasingly accessible to members of the public and is frequently used to access health-related information. Online gambling sites are also becoming more popular gambling platforms.


A randomized clinical trial (N=180) will be conducted in which individuals with gambling problems who are not interested in attending formal treatment are randomly assigned to have access to an online self-directed intervention or to a comparison condition. The comparison condition will be an alternative website that offers a self-assessment of gambling involvement and gambling-related problems. The participant’s use of the resources and their gambling involvement (days of gambling, dollars loss) and their gambling problems will be tracked for a twelve month follow-up period.


The results of this research will be important for informing policy-makers who are developing treatment systems.

Trial registration


Clinical trial; Brief intervention; Gambling disorders; Online intervention; Trial protocol