Empirical measures vs. perceived gambling severity among youth: Why adolescent problem gamblers fail to seek treatment


A comparison of empirical measures and perceived gambling severity among youth was conducted. Participants (N=980), mean age of 18.6 years, completed several widely accepted measures of pathological gambling [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-Juveniles (DSM-IV-J), South Oaks Gambling Screen-Revised for Adolescents (SOGS-RA), and Gambler's Anonymous 20 Questions (GA 20)] and a questionnaire assessing gambling behavior. Findings revealed that while the DSM-IV-J, SOGS-RA, and GA 20 identified between 3.4% and 5.8% of participants as probable pathological gamblers, only 1.1% of individuals classified themselves as such. Further, 3.3% of the population reported that they considered themselves problem gamblers and 66% reported being social gamblers. It appears as though either youth are grossly underestimating the severity of their gambling problems or the gambling screens are overestimating prevalence rates. The clinical implications and future directions for research are considered.

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