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Dr. Flora Matheson receives grant for problem gambling research

Toronto, July 20, 2017

Dr. Flora Matheson
Dr. Flora Matheson

Dr. Flora Matheson, a scientist with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael’s Hospital, is lead on a multi-year grant from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to optimize problem gambling support and service delivery for people living with complex needs.

This project is co-led by Dr. Sara Guilcher, an assistant professor with the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The grant will support up to $749,000 over the course of three years.

Problem gambling is a serious public health concern affecting up to seven per cent of the general population internationally. However, the burden of problem gambling is felt more strongly among people who are living in poverty and those who are homeless.

In previous research, Dr. Matheson, who is also a professor with U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, documented a prevalence of 35 per cent for problem/pathological gambling among men frequenting shelter services in Toronto. Dr. Matheson said that for people with low incomes who also gamble in excess, the burden of health and social needs is getting worse.

Dr. Guilcher and Dr. Matheson’s recent qualitative work has shown that problem gambling is intricately linked to a complexity of needs including substance use, mental health concerns, childhood physical, emotional and psychological trauma, chronic illness, disability and relationship loss.

Dr. Guilcher said that current services and interventions either do not address problem gambling at all, or neglect to integrate interventions for problem gambling into existing services such as those addressing poverty, housing, mental health and substance abuse. In order to design targeted interventions to address the complex needs of persons with problem gambling, the project team aims to inform client-centred service delivery for men and women who experience problem gambling.

The funding from this grant will be used to develop a mobile app using a scenario-based approach and lessons learned from the team’s literature review and qualitative interviews with clients.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media contacts

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Kelly O'Brien
Communications Advisor - Media, St. Michael's Hospital

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