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      Gender Differences in Treatment-Seeking British Pathological Gamblers

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          Background and aim

          Gambling is a widespread recreational activity in the UK. A significant percentage of gamblers develop subclinical or clinically relevant problem gambling issues, but only a low percentage of them seek treatment. Although characteristics of pathological gamblers from treatment-seeking population have been examined in some research, only a few studies have explored the differences between females and males. This study aimed to examine the gender-related differences in demographics, gambling measures, and clinical variables in an outpatient sample of pathological gamblers seeking treatment.


          A total of 1,178 treatment-seeking individuals with gambling disorder were assessed at the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London. Sociodemographic characteristics, clinical variables, and gambling behavior habits were obtained during the assessment evaluation. Of the total sample, 92.5% were males and 7.5% were females.


          Males were more likely to be younger, white, and employed than females. In addition, compared to women, men showed a lower PGSI score, an earlier age of onset of gambling behavior, a higher gambling involvement, and preferred specific forms gambling. Female gamblers were more anxious and depressed, while men were more likely to use alcohol and illicit drugs.


          Our findings support the importance of gender differences in a treatment-seeking population of pathological gamblers both in sociodemographic characteristics, gambling behavior variables, and clinical variables. Males and females might benefit from group-specific treatment.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Comorbidity of DSM-IV pathological gambling and other psychiatric disorders: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

          To present nationally representative data on lifetime prevalence and comorbidity of pathological gambling with other psychiatric disorders and to evaluate sex differences in the strength of the comorbid associations. Data were derived from a large national sample of the United States. Some 43,093 household and group quarters residents age 18 years and older participated in the 2001-2002 survey. Prevalence and associations of lifetime pathological gambling and other lifetime psychiatric disorders are presented. The diagnostic interview was the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-DSM-IV Version. Fifteen symptom items operationalized the 10 pathological gambling criteria. The lifetime prevalence rate of pathological gambling was 0.42%. Almost three quarters (73.2%) of pathological gamblers had an alcohol use disorder, 38.1% had a drug use disorder, 60.4% had nicotine dependence, 49.6% had a mood disorder, 41.3% had an anxiety disorder, and 60.8% had a personality disorder. A large majority of the associations between pathological gambling and substance use, mood, anxiety, and personality disorders were overwhelmingly positive and significant (p .05). Pathological gambling is highly comorbid with substance use, mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, suggesting that treatment for one condition should involve assessment and possible concomitant treatment for comorbid conditions.
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            Natural recovery and treatment-seeking in pathological gambling: results of two U.S. national surveys.

             W Slutske (2006)
            Pathological gambling is described in DSM-IV as a chronic and persisting disorder, but recent community-based longitudinal studies that have highlighted the transitory nature of gambling-related problems have called into question whether this is an accurate characterization. This emerging evidence of high rates of recovery coupled with low rates of treatment-seeking for pathological gambling suggests that natural recovery might be common. The purpose of the present study was to document the rates of recovery, treatment-seeking, and natural recovery among individuals with DSM-IV pathological gambling disorder in two large and representative U.S. national surveys. Prevalences of recovery, treatment-seeking, and natural recovery were estimated among individuals from the Gambling Impact and Behavior Study (N=2,417) and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (N=43,093) who reported a lifetime history of DSM-IV pathological gambling disorder (N=21 and N=185, respectively). Among individuals with a lifetime history of DSM-IV pathological gambling, 36%-39% did not experience any gambling-related problems in the past year, even though only 7%-12% had ever sought either formal treatment or attended meetings of Gamblers Anonymous. About one-third of the individuals with pathological gambling disorder in these two nationally representative U.S. samples were characterized by natural recovery. Pathological gambling may not always follow a chronic and persisting course. A substantial portion of individuals with a history of pathological gambling eventually recover, most without formal treatment. The results of large epidemiological surveys of pathological gambling may eventually overturn the established wisdom about pathological gambling disorder.
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              A pathways model of problem and pathological gambling.

              At the moment, there is no single conceptual theoretical model of gambling that adequately accounts for the multiple biological, psychological and ecological variables contributing to the development of pathological gambling. Advances in this area are hampered by imprecise definitions of pathological gambling, failure to distinguish between gambling problems and problem gamblers and a tendency to assume that pathological gamblers form one, homogeneous population with similar psychological principles applying equally to all members of the class. The purpose of this paper is to advance a pathways model that integrates the complex array of biological, personality, developmental, cognitive, learning theory and ecological determinants of problem and pathological gambling. It is proposed that three distinct subgroups of gamblers manifesting impaired control over their behaviour can be identified. These groups include (a) behaviourally conditioned problem gamblers, (b) emotionally vulnerable problem gamblers and (c) antisocial, impulsivist problem gamblers. The implications for clinical management are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                27 June 2016
                June 2016
                : 5
                : 2
                : 231-238
                [1 ]NPGC, National Problem Gambling Clinic, Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust , London, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Department of Surgery and Translational Medicine, University of Milano-Bicocca , Monza, Italy
                [3 ]Department of Mental Health, San Gerardo Hospital , Monza, Italy
                [4 ]Department of Medicine, Imperial College London , London, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Silvia Ronzitti; Department of Surgery and Translational Medicine, University of Milano-Bicocca, Via Cadore 48, 20900 Monza (MB), Italy; Phone: +39 346 0045094; E-mail: silvia.ronzitti@
                © 2016 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 38, Pages: 8
                Founding sources: No financial support was received for this study.
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