Cognitive distortions, anxiety, and depression among regular and pathological gambling online poker players

Abstract

The aims were to assess cognitive distortions and psychological distress (anxiety and depression) among online poker players of different levels of gambling intensity (non-pathological gamblers [NPG], problem gamblers [PbG], and pathological gamblers [PG]), and to examine the relationship between these variables and gambling pathology. Overall, 245 regular online poker players recruited on an Internet forum completed online self-report scales assessing pathological gambling (South Oaks Gambling Screen [SOGS]), psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) and cognitive distortions (Gambling-Related Cognition Scale). Based on their SOGS scores, poker players were ranked into three groups: NPG (n = 146), PbG (n = 55), and PG (n = 44). All poker players appeared to be more anxious than depressive. PG exhibited higher levels of depression and anxiety than did PbG and NPG. Cognitive distortions also significantly discriminated PG from PbG and NPG. A regression model showed that the perceived inability to stop gambling, the illusion of control, depression (HADS D), and anxiety were good predictors for pathological gambling among poker players. Our results suggest that cognitive distortions play an important role in the development and maintenance of gambling pathology. This study also underlines the role of anxiety and depression in pathological gambling among poker players. It seems relevant to take these elements into account in the research, prevention, and treatment of pathological gambling poker players. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

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