Gambling over the life course and treatment-seeking

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate change in gambling behaviours over the life course, and, correspondingly, the treatment-seeking behaviours of 86 people who met the criteria for at-risk (participants endorsing two to four items on the South Oaks Gambling Screen [SOGS]) and problem gamblers (participants endorsing five or more items on the SOGS) over the last five years. Data were obtained from informants during semi-structured interviews using Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV axis I and axis II disorders (SCID I and II), SOGS and treatment-seeking interviews. The results showed three groups of gambling behaviours over the life course. A first group started gambling early on and continued participating in recreational gambling until its participants were between 40 and 50 years of age, during which time they became problem gamblers. A second group transitioned from recreational gambling to problem gambling over a short period of time; its participants were aged between 40 and 50. Lastly, a third group which was exposed to gambling later on in life, mostly after retirement, developed gambling problems quickly. Psychopathology was prevalent in all groups, given that 98% suffered from a mental health problem during their life, and 62% within the last six months. Participants who made use of the services available mostly turned to medical and specialized mental services for brief periods, usually when in crisis. In terms of problem gambling, the results argue in favour of maintaining dedication toward treatment, especially in the presence of co-morbidity.

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