Gambling motivation and psychosocial outcomes in older adults: A multi-groups analysis of the impact of age, gender and type of gambling

Abstract

With gambling identified as one of the most popular social activities among older adults, and aging baby boomers representing a sharp increase in the number of adults older than 65 years of age, there will likely be a concomitant increase, in the coming years, in the number of older persons counting themselves among those who gamble. Due to the recent emphasis on the marketing of gambling toward senior citizens, newer research has focused on motivation behind gaming activities of older adults and the concern that they may develop a pathological gambling disorder. The majority of studies begin with the assumption that older adults are vulnerable and are thus at-risk for developing pathological or problem gambling due to factors common to later life such as illness, frequent and multiple loss, boredom, loneliness, and cognitive vulnerabilities such as Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. This dissertation challenges the assumption that gambling is inevitably a negative force in older persons' lives and shows that there are some instances when gambling may not be associated with negative outcomes. Although much research has been done on the gambling habits of adolescents and young adults, there is relatively little extant research on older adults who gamble. Because of population aging and the increased participation in gambling by senior citizens, this focus has gradually changed. However, the existing studies have limitations that might impact generalizability of findings or result in gaps in the research and discourse currently surrounding gaming phenomena in elders. This dissertation addressed certain limitations and gaps in existing literature by performing a secondary analysis of an existing data set using self-determination theory (SDT) as a theoretical framework and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) as a way to predict outcomes based on motivations and gambling behaviors. More specifically, an existing database that is a result of a large, national study, the Gambling Impact and Behavior Study (GIBS), was utilized to study gambling motivation, behaviors and outcomes for adults. The following research questions were addressed: 1) Which type of motivation-extrinsic or intrinsic-predicts better psychosocial outcomes in older adults who participate in gaming activities? 2) What impact do age, gender, and type of gambling have on the association between motivation and outcomes? Results suggest a strong association between gambling for extrinsic reasons and relationship difficulties and emotional problems for all adults (ages 18+) as well as a lower occurrence of relationship difficulties for older adults (65+) and women who gamble for intrinsic reasons. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

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