A Preliminary Study of the Effectiveness of Group Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Chinese Pathological Gamblers in Hong Kong


  • Patrick Tak Ching Lau Counselor, Caritas Addicted Gamblers Counselling Centre, Caritas


This presentation reports on a clinical study of the application of a culturally attuned cognitive-behavioral therapy group for Chinese pathological gamblers in Hong Kong. It adopted a pretest-posttest control group design. Participants were aged 18 to 65 years and were suffering from the DSM IV criteria of pathological gambling. Measures included South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), Gambling Urge Scale, Gambling-Related Cognition Scale, and Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale. Two experimental groups and two control groups with a total of 38 participants were run. Results indicate that there were significant decreases in the scores of SOGS and frequencies of gambling in the experimental group while no difference were found in control group. 40% of probable pathological gamblers in the experimental group changed to the category of “some problems with gambling” after attending CBT groups whereas little change in status was found among participants of the control group The findings also show that a change in gambling cognitions correlated to changes in gambling severity and gambling urge while a change in gambling severity was related to a change in depression. The overall results suggest that CBT groups were effective in lowering Chinese pathological gamblers’ severity of gambling by changing gamblers’ distorted beliefs towards gambling. The improvement in gambler’s severity of gambling might have positive effect on their mental health.