Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Co-Occurring Gambling Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans: A Narrative Review

Catherine Hitch*, Daniel Leightley, Dominic Murphy, Nora Trompeter, Simon Dymond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: PTSD and gambling disorder (GD) are frequently comorbid. Gambling may provide escape-based coping for the emotions experienced by PTSD sufferers. Military personnel may be at increased risk of PTSD and/or GD. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been found to improve both PTSD and GD outcomes, yet research into the potential effectiveness of ACT for PTSD and/GD in veterans is scarce.

Objective: This review aimed to systematically assess and describe the evidence relating to the use of ACT and acceptance-based therapy for military populations with PTSD and/or GD.

Method: Six databases were searched. Selection criteria included studies that featured the armed forces/military, delivered ACT/acceptance-based therapy, and aimed to improve PTSD and/or GD outcomes. A narrative synthesis approach was adopted.

Results: From 1,117 results, 39 studies were fully screened and 14 met inclusion criteria. All studies originated from the USA and 9 were associated with United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Therapy use within each study produced an improvement in PTSD and/or GD, yet only one study examined GD and no studies considered comorbid PTSD/GD. The broad range of study designs made it difficult to compare the findings or make generalisations from the collective results. It is unclear which method of ACT delivery is superior (app-based, telehealth, face-to-face, groups, one-to-one, manualised, or unstructured), or what the true effect size is of ACT for PTSD and/or GD.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings are promising, yet more research is needed on the delivery format and content of ACT sessions, and whether findings generalise beyond USA-recruited military samples. The cost-effectiveness of remote-based ACT also warrants investigation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of psychotraumatology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Dec 2022


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