Efficacy of a randomized controlled trial of Integrative Couple Treatment for Pathological Gambling (ICT-PG): 18 month follow-up

First published: 13 March 2019 | Last updated: 28 March 2019

Dr Joël Tremblay


Joël Tremblay (Ph.D., psychology) is a full professor, department of psychoeducation, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and director of a research team in substance abuse (RISQ – www.risqtoxico.ca)

His research topics concern family members and their roles in the treatment of substance abuse and gambling problems. He is specifically interested into couple treatment of pathological gambling, and intervention with family members of addicted persons who do not want to modify their behaviors. He works also on tests development and planning models for addiction services.

Recent publications

Tremblay, J., Bertrand, K., Blanchette-Martin, N., Rush, B., Savard, A.-C., L’Espérance, N., Demers-Lessard, G., & Genois, R. (submited). Estimation of Needs for Addiction Services : A Youth Model. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Tremblay, J., Dufour, M., Bertrand, K., Blanchette-Martin, N., Ferland, F., Savard, A.-C., Saint-Jacques, M., & Côté, M. (2018). The Experience of Couples in the Process of Treatment of Pathological Gambling : Couple Versus Individual Therapy. Frontiers in psychology, 8(177). doi : 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02344

Simoneau, H., Kamgang, E., Tremblay, J., Bertrand, K., Brochu, S., & Fleury, M.-J. (2017). Efficacy of the intervention models addressing the chronicity of substance use disorders: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Review. doi: 10.1111/dar.12590

Kourgiantakis, T., Saint-Jacques, M.-C., Tremblay, J. (2017). Facilitators and Barriers to Family Involvement in Problem Gambling Treatment. International Journal of mental health and addiction. 1-22. doi : s11469-017-9742-2

Despite the many consequences of gambling disorders on quality of couple relationship, most therapies for problem gambling favour an individual approach. Inspired by the McCrady & Epstein’s ABCT, our team developed the ICT-PG. ICT-PG aims to reduce/stop gambling via traditional cognitive behavioural treatment combine to relationship enhancement strategies (communication, problem solving, mutual reinforcement, reducing relational reinforcement of gambling). Aims. The aims of this real-life RCT, which is one of the first RCT studies of couple therapy for gambling, is to evaluate the efficacy of ICT-PG. Method. Eighty couples were recruited and randomized between ICT-PG (n = 44 couples) and individual treatment (n = 36 couples). The results concern follow-up at 18 month post-admission. Linear Mixed and GEE models for repeated measures were applied to take into account the dependency of observations (SAS 9.4). Results. Globally, participants in both modalities improved over time. On many indices of gambling severity, the participants in ICT-PG showed a better improvement at follow-ups: better reduction in gambling addiction, erroneous cognitions and improvement in capacity of self-control. The couple modality is also associated with a better couple functioning observed on different variables at both follow- ups: Marital satisfaction, mutual support, communication skills and conflicts resolution. Also, gamblers oriented in ICT-PG present less depressive symptoms and use less avoidant/detached coping strategies. Partners in ICT-PG are less depressed. Conclusions. These promising results accentuate the importance of including partners in the treatment of gambling disorders. Study limitations and further developments of ICT-PG will be presented.



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Dr Joël Tremblay