The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)-led project aims to develop a new high quality problem gambling methodology to replace the existing telephone survey data collection. Following a May 2022 pilot, the Commission approved the project despite concerns that the new GB harms survey was oversampling problem gamblers.
In the latest stage of the research, NatCen conducted further experiments to further test and refine the survey’s methodology and questionnaire content. This marks the second phase of the experimental stage of the project.
The phase will be followed by a third stage conducted between April and July 2023. This will be the final test of the agreed approach, taking learnings from the first two experiments and applying them so that the survey’s design and questionnaire content is “robust and fit for official statistics”.
Household selection experiment
During the latest stage of the project, the Commission conducted two experiments, testing both the content and sampling of the survey. The first experiment explored the survey’s household selection and the presentation of harms statements.
“NatCen explored the best ways to encourage both gamblers and non-gamblers to complete the survey to ensure a representative spread of respondents,” read the report.
In the experiment, NatCen changed the wording on the invitation letters to make it clearer that the organisation asking was interested in responses from both gamblers and non-gamblers.
In parallel with this work, NatCen also conducted a split sample experiment to find the “optimum approach” for the number of adults per household to be invited to take part in the survey. Subsequently, it tested results when inviting two rather than four adults per household.
“Within this first experimental phase, NatCen also continued to build on the work that the Gambling Commission have been doing to develop a way of understanding the incidence and nature of harms associated with gambling,” said the report.
As part of this work, NatCen ran an experiment to find whether a yes or no response, as opposed to a four-point scale, worked best when asking about experiences of harm.
Following the conclusion of the experiment, NatCen made a number of recommendations as to future methodology. Among other changes, the non-profit argued that the preferred option is to invite two, rather than four, adults per household take part.
The refined four-point answer scale for the harms questions should also be maintained, with the questions being “very often”, “fairly often”, “occasionally” and “never”.
Presentation of the gambling activity list
In the second experiment, NatCen tested the construction and presentation of the gambling activity list. This was accomplished by testing an updated list of gambling activities as well as testing different ways of presenting the list of gambling activities to respondents.
NatCen tested three different methods showing the list – a long list, a chunked list and a hierarchical list. The organisation also tested the inclusion of a quick response QR code which aimed to simplify the process by bypassing the need to manually enter information.
NatCen recommended that a long list approach be adopted and that QR codes should be retained as an alternative way for participants to access the survey in future.