Gambling behavior and problem gambling reflecting social transition and traumatic childhood events among Greenland Inuit: A cross-sectional study in a large indigenous population undergoing rapid change


An increase in social pathologies is a key feature in indigenous populations undergoing transition. The Greenland Inuit are a large indigenous population constituting a majority in their own country, which makes it possible to investigate differences within the population. This led us to study gambling behavior and problem gambling among Greenland Inuit in relation to the ongoing social transition and traumatic events during childhood. A large representative cross-sectional study was conducted among Greenland Inuit (n = 2,189). Data was collected among adults (18+) in 9 towns and 13 villages in Greenland from 2005 to 2010. Problem gambling, gambling behavior and traumatic childhood events were measured through a self-administered questionnaire. The lie/bet screen was used to identify past year and lifetime problem gambling. Social transition was measured as place of residence and a combination of residence, education and occupation. The lifetime prevalence of problem gambling was 16 % among men and 10 % among women (p < 0.0001); and higher in towns (19 %) compared to the capital of Nuuk (11 %) and in villages (12 %) (men only, p = 0.020). Lifetime problem gambling was associated with social transition (p = 0.023), alcohol problems in childhood home (p = 0.001/p = 0.002) and sexual abuse in childhood (women only, p = 0.030). A comparably high prevalence of lifetime problem gambling among Greenland Inuit adds problem gambling to the list of social pathologies in Greenland. A significant association between lifetime problem gambling, social transition and traumatic childhood events suggests people caught between tradition and modern ways of life are more vulnerable to gambling problems.

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