# Choosing a Screening Tool

Screening is a structured process that makes it easy to identify people whose gambling behaviours may lead to problem gambling or other negative consequences.

Ideally, this process should be quick and easy, and identify as many individuals with risky gambling as possible.

It should be noted that screening is not assessment, and screening tools should not be used as diagnostic tools.

Diagram depicting screening possibilities.

# Brief Screens vs. Full Screens

Brief screens identify possible problem gamblers.

Full screens triage clients according to their gambling severity or risk of harm.

Brief screens consist of two to three questions, which typically take less than a minute to answer. They allow you to immediately rule out clients who have minimal risk of problem gambling. Full screens consist of 10 to 20 questions, which typically take up to five minutes to administer. They provide an “index of severity” and inform the choice of intervention that will best address the client’s needs.

Interventions can take many formats and differ depending on the client’s risk level.


What’s the difference between a brief and full screen?

Brief and full screens differ in both their duration and accuracy.

We provide recommendations for screening tools for gambling in the menu at left.

For each of the tools recommended, we provide information about its accuracy in identifying individuals with problem gambling, such as:

  • Sensitivity ― refers to how well the tool correctly identifies people with problem gambling.
  • Specificity ― refers to how well the tool identifies people that do not have problem gambling.
  • Positive Predictive Value (PPV) ― reflects the likelihood that a person who has a positive screening test actually has problem gambling.
  • Negative Predictive Value (NPV) ― reflects the likelihood that a person with a negative screening test does not have problem gambling.


Sensitivity and Specificity refer to the properties of a test.

PPV and NPV describe how a test performs and takes the prevalence of the disorder into account ― and can therefore differ across clinical settings.


The tools we recommend (see the menu at left) are informed by research and have been shown to be the most effective.

These are validated instruments and may not work as well if altered.

As these measure characteristics illustrate, each of the brief and full screens presented here have a strong evidence base! Organizational priorities may influence the choice of instrument. For example, if your organization has a strong emphasis on identifying those at risk, then measures with the highest sensitivity may be preferred (despite potential “false positives”). Including your team in decision making about which tools to use can be an effective way to increase engagement and to increase implementation success!