Gambling level and psychiatric and medical disorders in older adults: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the association between gambling level and psychiatric and medical disorders in a nationally representative sample of older adults. METHOD: Data on 10,563 U.S. older adults (age 60 or older) were analyzed from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. RESULTS: A total 28.74% of older adults were lifetime recreational gamblers and 0.85% were lifetime disordered gamblers. Compared with older adults without a history of regular gambling, recreational gamblers had significantly elevated rates of alcohol (30.1% versus 12.8%), nicotine (16.9% versus 8.0%), mood (12.6% versus 11.0%), anxiety (15.0% versus 11.6%), and personality disorders (11.3% versus 7.3%) and obesity (25.6% versus 20.8%), but were less likely to have past-year diagnoses of arteriosclerosis (4.7% versus 6.0%) or cirrhosis (0.2% versus 0.4%). Disordered gamblers were significantly more likely than older adults without a history of regular gambling to have alcohol (53.2% versus 12.8%), nicotine (43.2% versus 8.0%), drug (4.6% versus 0.7%), mood (39.5% versus 11.0%), anxiety (34.5% versus 11.6%), and personality (43.0% versus 7.3%) disorders, and to have past-year diagnoses of arthritis (60.2% versus 44.3%) or angina (22.7% versus 8.8%). These results remained significant even after controlling for demographic, psychiatric, and behavioral risk factors. CONCLUSIONS: Lifetime recreational gamblers were more likely than nonregular gamblers to have psychiatric disorders but were less likely to have some medical conditions. Lifetime disordered gamblers had a range of lifetime psychiatric disorders and were more likely than nonregular gamblers to have past-year diagnoses of angina and arthritis.

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