Gambling related cognitive distortions in adolescence: Relationships with gambling problems in typically developing and special needs students

Abstract

The present study examined the link between problematic gambling and gambling related cognitions (GRCs) in a large sample of adolescents with (N = 266) and without (N = 1,738) special education needs (SEN) between the ages of 14 and 18 years attending several high schools in eastern central Ontario. The adolescents with SENs were identified as having various learning disorders and/or internalizing and externalizing problems [e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)]. All adolescents completed a self-report questionnaire package that included the GRC Scale (GRCS; Raylu and Oei in Addiction 99:757-769, 2004), as well as measures of problem gambling, negative affect, and ADHD symptomatology. Results showed that adolescents with SEN hold more erroneous beliefs about gambling and had a higher risk of developing problematic patterns of gambling behaviour than their typically developing peers. Moreover, the GRCS subscales were found to be strong predictors of problem gambling among adolescents both with and without SEN, accounting for a substantial amount of the variance even when controlling for the effects of age, gender, ADHD, and negative affect. It is suggested that intervention and prevention programs aimed at adolescent gambling need to give particular attention to those with SEN.

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