An exploratory study of multiple distinct gambling trajectories in emerging adults

Abstract

This study uses data from a four-wave longitudinal survey of emerging adults (18–20 years of age in Wave 1) to examine whether there are multiple distinct trajectories of problem gambling risk severity and whether membership in these trajectory classes can be predicted by certain risk and protective factors. Four trajectory classes of gambling risk severity were identified – nonproblem-diminishing (73.9%), low-risk-stable (16.8%), marginal/nongambler-diminishing (7.1%), moderate-risk-increasing (2.2%) – with most youths' gambling involvement remaining stable or diminishing across the years and only the smallest most at-risk group showing a slight increase in severity across this transitional period. Three risk factors were significant predictors of class membership – being male, scoring higher on alcohol dependence, and escape-avoidance coping were all associated with increased probability of being in one of the more gambling involved trajectory classes, while lower alcohol dependence scores were associated with increased likelihood of being in the marginal/nongambling class.

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