Anna van der Gaag, the Chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG), has stressed that the UK gambling industry requires urgency in developing evidence-led research to reduce gambling harms.
A Professor on Ethics and Regulation at the University of Surrey, van der Gaag has led the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) advisory group on research, education and treatment (RET) since 2018.
Publishing a blog on the UKGC website, van der Gaag stated that breakthroughs in problem gambling research were set back by the often-repeated quote of “we don’t have enough evidence yet”.
An expert researcher in medical and social care, she underlined that research of healthcare tended to use polarised frames of reference.
“Positivist versus interpretive, objective versus subjective, empirical versus narrative, expert versus layperson, each one claiming superiority over the other in an increasingly politicised world of measurement,” van der Gaag said.
Referencing the work of Canadian physician Dave Sackett on ‘Evidence-Based Medicines (EBM)’, she outlined that “actions can inform research”.
The Professor agrees with Sackett’s perspective that an ‘evidence-based practice involved the interaction of three elements – research, clinical judgment and the voice of users and not, as many proposed, research evidence alone.”
In addition, the ABSG Chair agreed with the evaluation of the University of Oxford’s Muir Gray on value-based healthcare, in which research had to be responsive to the requirements of a postmodern society, securing values as well as evidence.
“These observations are no less relevant today than they were some two decades ago,” van der Gaag added.
“We must not wait for one type of research evidence to be fully complete before moving forward on planning provision of services. We must evaluate carefully as provision evolves, and adapt accordingly, listening to those who already provide treatment and support.”