On the request of the Department Health and Human Services, the University teamed up with the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) to develop an online professional development program for Tasmanian GPs to assist people with gambling problems.
The RACGP provided the online learning platform gplearning and project management and the University, through the collaborative efforts Faculty of Health, Faculty of Education and TILT designed and wrote the content.
Problems arising from gambling are prevalent in Tasmania with 3% of the population having moderate or severe problems form gambling. In addition people with gambling problems don’t often seek help …especially from health professionals.
“We wanted to assist GPs to be more aware of the impact of gambling on peoples wellbeing and their families , and empower them to screen for these problems and have a toolkit to help ” said Dr Nick Cooling the writing team leader (Faculty of Health).
Dr Cooling said in any one year 85% of us visit a GP and GPs supply the bulk of health care to the population, so general practice is where our investment in helping problem gamblers should be.
The outcome of this project was a Gambling Assistance program, a one-hour online CME activity for GPs on the gplearning platform. This was launched by Jacquie Petrusma, Minister for Human Services in November.
The University writing team included AProf Emma Warnekcke, Dr Kristy Fitzgerald & Dr Nick Cooling (Faculty of Health Dr Jill Downing (Fac of Education ) and Nelle Rundle (TILT).
They worked closely with the RACGP through Ms Deb McAteer, Medical Education Writer for the RACGP and under guidance of the DHHS advisor: Mr Ben Ross Gambling Support Program, Disability and Community Services
“The challenge now is to ensure that GPs access this high quality CME program and even more importantly start screening their patients for problems with gambling and assisting with their resolution – either by targeted referral or with their own counseling skills,” said Dr Cooling
“There is little evidence in the literature for behavior change in doctors from just participating in CME. There is evidence that using behaviour change strategies – as we do for patients – does work. So what we are now doing now is using a multifaceted approach to support GPs to make the changes in their clinical practice to help them find and support this vulnerable population,” said Dr Cooling.
This project now is beginning a research phase where the effectiveness of this intervention on GP behaviour is now being measured.
“The outcome we hope for is people with gambling problems accessing more services in Tasmania and overall there being less problems related to gambling in Tasmania. Through primary care is one of the most cost effective way of achieving this.”
(Source: University of Tasmania)