A latent class analysis of DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling: Results from the National Epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions


With rapid increases in gambling opportunities over the past decade, gambling has emerged as an important social and public health concern. The pending revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has prompted a flurry of empirical research evaluating the extant diagnostic classification scheme; however few studies have evaluated the pathological gambling criteria. This paper utilized latent class analysis (LCA) to empirically derive and validate a typology of gamblers. LCA was applied to the 10 DSM-IV pathological gambling criteria utilizing data from the 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (n=11,104). LCA identified three latent classes which largely differed according to severity. The majority of respondents were assigned to the no gambling problems class (93.3%). Gamblers in the moderate gambling problems class (6.1%) primarily endorsed the preoccupation, tolerance, and chasing criteria. The pervasive gambling problems class (0.6%) endorsed the majority of the criteria. A number of significant differences between the classes emerged as a function of demographic, psychiatric and substance use disorders. The findings offer a heuristic and clinically useful typology of gamblers. Support for a continuum of gambling-related problems reiterates the need for assessment, prevention, and treatment strategies that reflect this more nuanced understanding of gambling.

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