Gambling involvement indicative of underlying behavioral and mental health disorders

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In spite of increased gambling opportunities, risk factors associated with recreational gambling remain poorly understood. This study assessed behavioral risk factors associated with frequency of recreational gambling. METHODS: Data were derived from the 2013 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Gambling frequency was divided into two or more times per week, 1-4 times a month, less than 10 times in total, and not at all. Health risk behaviors included smoking, drinking, obesity, seat belt use, and sleep patterns. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess relationships between overall gambling participation and gambling frequency and behavioral risk behaviors. Final analytical sample included 3,988 survey respondents. Statistical analyses were performed using STATA. RESULTS: Significant differences exist in the socio-demographic characteristics of recreational gamblers. Highest gambling frequency is associated with increased odds of alcohol consumption (ie, having at least one alcohol drink during the past 30 days) (OR 1.9; p < .05), binge drinking (ie, having five or more alcohol drinks at least once during the past 30 days) (OR 3.7; p < .001), and tobacco use (ie, having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime) (OR 3.4; p < .001). The odds of having fourteen days of poor mental health are twofold for recreational gamblers who gamble two or more times per week (OR 2.2; p < .05). CONCLUSION AND SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Differing behavioral and mental health risk factors emerge among recreational gamblers by gambling frequency. Gambling frequency may be a better proxy for assessing the risk of developing gambling related behavioral disorders than overall endorsement of gambling participation.

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