In a recent commentary on the study, published in The Lancet Public Health by Prof Zsolt Demetrovics , Chair of The Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming at the University of Gibraltar and Dr Zsolt Horváth Adjunct Associate Researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming pointed out the need for future research to explore the bidirectional relationship between problem gambling and self-harm, as well as the potential for non-linear change trajectories over time. They also highlighted the importance of taking into account different subgroups of gamblers who may show different patterns of self-harm, due to differences in motivations, personalities, and comorbid disorders.
To address these gaps, future research could benefit from adopting a more extensive longitudinal design. For example, using a panel study with data collected at multiple time points from a representative sample of the population could allow for a more precise examination of the bidirectional relationships between problem gambling and self-harm, as well as different forms of self-harm among different problem gambling subgroups. This could be accomplished through the use of statistical analysis methods such as random intercept cross-lagged panel modelling and latent growth modelling, which can provide a more accurate view of the complex longitudinal relationship between problem gambling and self-harm.
Overall, the researchers emphasized the need for cautious research designs that take into account potential confounding variables and heterogeneity among different trajectories and causal pathways. Without a proper understanding of the complex relationship between problem gambling and self-harm, designing and implementing effective interventions will remain challenging.