The Science Behind the Guidelines

While developing the Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines, the development team conducted several research projects in support of their work. The following table describes the research projects and provides a link to publications where further details can be found.

If you have questions about these projects, please complete the Contact Us form to submit your inquiry.

Research Project
Methods and Results
Reference Information
Research protocolThe research protocol was developed in 2016 and published in 2018.Currie, S. R., & Low Risk Gambling Guidelines Scientific Working Group. (2019). A research plan to define Canada’s first low-risk gambling guidelines. Health Promotion International, 34(6), 1207–1217.

Available at pmc/articles/PMC6913218/
Risk curve analysesReceiver operator curves plotting gambling involvement (i.e., % of monthly household income, frequency per month and number of gambling types played in last year) vs. gambling related harms (as defined by items on the Problem Gambling Severity Index) were developed for 11 different representative population datasets from eight different countries.

Each curve generated a lower limit by applying the Youden Index and a higher limit by maximizing specificity, while ensuring that sensitivity was fixed at 0.5 or higher.

The ranges were collectively analyzed using a modal analysis and an assessment of the mean of the upper and lower range limits to develop an overall range. Overall range validation was conducted via visual inspection of each risk curve.
Hodgins, D. C., Young, M. M., Currie, S. R., Abbott, M., Billi, R., Brunelle, N., … Nadeau, L. (2021). Cross-national consistency in lower-risk gambling limits: linked analyses across eight countries. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Available upon request.
Assessing cumulative change in risk of harm across the range of possible gambling limitsCalculated how the cumulative change in risk of experiencing gambling-related harms (financial, relationship, emotional and psychological, and health) increases incrementally as the limit for gambling involvement (i.e., % [n=59,099], frequency [64,706], and gambling types [64,706]) increases.Young, M. M., Hodgins, D. C., Currie, S. R., Brunelle, N., Dufour, M., Flores-Pajot, M.-C., & Nadeau, L. (2021). Development of lower-risk gambling guidelines. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Available upon request.
Online survey of gamblingA collaboration with the Alberta Gambling Research Institute, survey responses from a sample of people who regularly gamble were recruited from a pool of online panelists associated with the survey firm Leger360.

Phase I responses were collected in August 2018 (n=10,054).

Phase II responses were collected in August 2019 via a follow-up survey of those who completed Phase I (n=4,707).
Currie, S. R., Brunelle, N., Dufour, M., Flores-Pajot, M.-C., Hodgins, D., Nadeau, L., & Young, M. (2020). Use of self-control strategies for managing gambling habits leads to less harm in regular gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies. 36(2), 685–698.


Young, M. M., Hodgins, D. C., Currie, S. R., Brunelle, N., Dufour, M., Flores-Pajot, M.-C., & Nadeau, L. Development of Lower-Risk Gambling Guidelines. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Available upon request.
Interviews and focus groups with people who gambleAmong the 10,054 participants who completed Phase I of the online survey, 5,018 reported using one self-control strategy at least sometimes. Among these respondents 56 people (27 males and 29 females) participated in nine focus groups and five individual interviews in Montreal (in French), Calgary and Toronto. Each participant reported gambling more than once in the month before the survey was administered.Flores-Pajot, M.-C., Atif, S., Dufour, M., Brunelle, N., Currie, S. R., Hodgins, D. C., Nadeau, L., Young, M. M. (2021). Gambling self-control strategies: A qualitative analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18, 586.

Available at
Literature review and meta-analysis of special risk populations and contextual factors associated with risk of problem gamblingA systematic search of the published and grey literature was conducted to identify all population prevalence surveys conducted world-wide until March 2019. In total, 255 studies were identified, of which 181 contained information about problem gambling correlates useful for analyses.

Of the 181 studies that detected a significant positive relationship between a correlate and problem gambling, 104 contained information sufficient to meta-analyze and calculate an odds ratio, reflecting the size of the bivariate relationship between the correlate and problem gambling.
Allami, Y., Hodgins, D., Young, M., Brunelle, N., Currie, S., Dufour, M., Flores-Pajot, M., & Nadeau, L. (2021). A meta-analysis of problem gambling risk factors in the general adult population. Addiction.

Available at doi/10.1111/add.15449