Does context matter? A multilevel analysis of gambling settings among undergraduates

Abstract

Background:
Research has yet to disentangle and estimate the relative contributions of both contextual and individual characteristics to explain time and money expenditures on gambling.

Methods:
Data are drawn from the University Student Gambling Habit Survey (ENHJEU), a campus-stratified survey targeting full-time undergraduates enrolled at three universities in Montreal, Canada (Nā€‰=ā€‰2139). Up to three gambling occasions were investigated per respondent, resulting in 1757 gambling occasions distributed among 916 students. Multilevel analyses were performed to estimate the variances in time and money expenditures that are derived at the individual level (level 2) and at the contextual level (level 1).

Results:
Regarding time expenditures, the intraclass correlation revealed that 58% of the estimated variance is between students, whereas 42% is between occasions. All contextual variables including alcohol use, days of the week, social context, group size and experience of play were significantly related to students' time spent gambling, with the exception of drug use. With respect to money expenditures, 56% of the estimated variance is between individuals, whereas 44% is explained by the gambling occasions. Money expenditures per occasion vary based on whether students were gambling on a weekday or during the weekend, how many people they were gambling with, and the general experience of play.

Conclusions:
Prevention strategies should focus on educational messages that provide tips and tricks for balancing leisure gambling time and daily responsibilities (e.g. studies). It is also important to deploy effective prevention tools to break isolation and loss of control in concentrated settings.

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